Monday, February 23, 2015

A brief history of Replacement theology

Replacement theology, also called Supersessionism, is is the teaching that the Christian church has replaced Israel in regards to God's purpose and promises. (1) Dr. Chuck Missler breaks it down with two main points:
  • Israel rejected her messiah; therefore she forfeited the promises God had made to her.
  • The Church has replaced Israel, becoming "Spiritual Israel." (2)
Neither of these views are Biblical. Israel and the Church have will certainly travel different, and equally important paths, but for all those who accept Jesus Christ as Messiah, we will eventually reach the same destination: heavenly life with our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is very clear in Ezekial 38 & 39, Psalm 83, and according to the promises of the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7, that Israel is very much still in the palm of God's hand and continues to have prominence and importance in His plans.
For example, in Israel and the Church: The Prodigal Heirs Dr. Missler cites four prerequisites that must be in place before the 70th Week of Daniel 9:
The nation of Israel reestablished as a soveriegn state
The nation be militarily secure
The nation be at apparent peace in the Middle East
The nation have restored material fortune. (3)
While Israel is indeed a sovereign state, it is yet to be militarily secure, at peace, or have restored material fortune. With the discovery of oil in Israel, we may be on the brink of the final three conditions being met. Regardless it is clear that without Israel's part in God's plan, we will never see the 70th week ushered in leading to a mere 7 years before Christ returns to rule in the Millennial Kindgom.
How prevelant is Replacement Theology in the Church? Rev. Brian D. Warner, M.A., of Wheaton College Graduate School believes Replacement Theology is a myth and is a devisive tool used by some Christians to attack and marginalize other Christians. (4) He gives quite a bit of evidence to suggest the theory is wrong, however offers no proof that denominations do not believe and promote the concept.
This subject can easily become an entire book on it's own, so to be brief, I have included a definition of the ways Replacement Theory can be expressed that may lead interested parties to further research on the subject:
"R. Kendall Soulen notes three categories of supersessionism identified by Christian theologians: punitive, economic, and structural:[3]
Punitive supersessionism is represented by such Christian thinkers as Hippolytus, Origen, and Luther. It is the view that Jews who reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah are consequently condemned by God, forfeiting the promises otherwise due to them under the covenants.
Economic supersessionism is used in the technical theological sense of function (see economic Trinity). It is the view that the practical purpose of the nation of Israel in God's plan is replaced by the role of the Church. It is represented by writers such as Justin Martyr, Augustine, and Barth.
Structural supersessionism is Soulen's term for the de facto marginalization of the Old Testament as normative for Christian thought. In his words, "Structural supersessionism refers to the narrative logic of the standard model whereby it renders the Hebrew Scriptures largely indecisive for shaping Christian convictions about how God’s works as Consummator and Redeemer engage humankind in universal and enduring ways."[7] Soulen's terminology is used by Craig A. Blaising, in 'The Future of Israel as a Theological Question.'[8]" (5)
According to this source, early church fathers who purpoted this theory included, to name just a few:
1. Justin Martyr
2. Hippolytus of Rome
3. Tertullian
4. Augustine
In addition, the Roman Catholic Church, prior to Vatican II, offered many teachings consistent with Replacement Theory, one of which continues to this day: "The Codex Justinianus (1:5:12) for example defines "everyone who is not devoted to the Catholic Church and to our Orthodox holy Faith" a heretic." (5) lists the following church denominations as officially making statements of belief in Replacement Theology. (6) I was not able to find a date of publication, however the site did go on to list sources and quotes. It would make an interesting start to further research.

John J. Parsons, offers additional insight to the different view of the relationship between the Church and Israel. (7)
In conclusion, while Christians will likely always be divided in areas of denominational opinion, as we draw closer to the Millennial Kingdom, and the blindness of Israel is lifted, I pray that the blindness of Christians will also be lifted in regards to the place of Israel in the heart of our mutual Lord, and that we bless Israel instead of cursing her, for we all know how that works out (Genesis 12:3.)
1. Slick, Matt. Christian Apologetics and Research Minisitry. 2015. Web.
2. Missler, Chuck. The Prodigal Heirs: Israel and the Church. Couer d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 1995. MP3
3. Missler, Chuck. Israel and the Church: The Prodigal Heirs. Couer D'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2012. DVD
4. Warner, Brian D. Replacement Theology. 2012. Web.
5. Wikipedia. Supersessionism. 2015. Web.
6. Is the Church Israel? 2015. Web.
7. Parsons, John J. Israel and the Church. 2015. Web.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this article. It was very informative. I appreciate you sharing this information. I first read the article and was very pleased to have been lead to it and to read it.


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