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Israel: Replacement Theology & Christian Palestinianism
There are probably only about five or six doctrines that I consider crucial today because they happen to be at the crucial points where Biblical correctness or Biblical orthodoxy is attacked. Of course, one of those is in the area of the gospel. That's the whole battle between the free grace theology and "lordship" or some kind of works. Within evangelical circles, that's the focal point of that battle related to understanding salvation. In the spiritual life, which we spent a lot of time studying in Romans 6-8, the focal point of that battle happens to be in the area of the relationship of God the Holy Spirit. Do we just live our Christian life by being moral and ethical or is there a conscientious dependence on God the Holy Spirit. Of course you know the answer to that. It's the second. There's a conscientious dependence on God the Holy Spirit. We walk by means of the Spirit. It's not a mystical thing because it's connected to the objective revelation of God's Word.
There are battles related to understanding God's plan and purpose for history. That's the battle between covenant theology and dispensational theology. At the root of that there's another battle. The battle is how do you interpret the Bible? How do you understanding the meaning of the text? That's another battle and that battle is germane to both the battle related to dispensational thinking versus covenant theology as well as the issue and role of Israel.
Israel is becoming more and more of an issue in recent years. It has been over the last century with the return of Jews to the land for the first time in the last 2,000 years. Is this significant for the plan of God? As Randy Price gave a paper several years ago at Pre-Trib Conference called, "Is the Return of the Jews to the Land Prophetically significant?" It's important to understand how he said that. He didn't say, "Is this a fulfillment of prophecy but is it prophetically significant?" The answer, of course, was yes.
But there a lot of Christians who don't believe that. It's not a majority of evangelicals. There are a lot of non-evangelicals. In fact, they think that you're the enemy. You have been deceived and that Christians who believe that Israel is significant today, that's one of the greatest errors, heresies, and dangers in the modern world. "The reason we have problems with the U.S. in terms of foreign policy, the reason we were attacked on 9/11 and many other things is because of the horrible, evil influence of you terrible wicked dispensationalists and Christian Zionists. It's all because you support Israel that we have all these terrible things going on in the world. If we just got rid of Israel we wouldn't have a problem."
Now there are a lot of problems with that view. You need to understand that recent polls indicate that around 64-65% of the American voting public supports Israel. The reason they do, and we're only one generation away from losing that, is because of the heritage of a plain, literal interpretation of Scripture. Why is it that the United States is so supportive of Israel and Europe is not? It goes back to the fact that Europe never was impacted by the consistent, plain, literal interpretation of the Scripture, except for England. Coming out of England, the English Reformation, the rise of the Puritans, they were on a literal interpretation and their focus on the value of the Jewish people, and that God had a plan that included the future restoration of the Jews to the land.
That was more consistently laid out in England and it certainly influenced the original colonists who came to the United States. So ultimately the reason is theological. What's happened in recent years is that theological influence is evaporating. A recent survey indicated that probably 60% of the evangelicals who took this survey when asked why they support Israel gave a reason other than a Biblical, religious, or theological reason. They said it was because Israel is a democratic nation in the Middle East, they're the only ally in the Middle East, because they share a lot of intelligence and information and technology and other practical reasons. But a theological, religious, or Biblical reason was not in the top five answers.
The more a person was involved in leadership in their local church, taught Sunday school, or were part of a teaching community, the more that changed. But that affected only older evangelicals who had a Biblical foundation but the younger Christians, who make up the so-called broad evangelical spectrum, that group is being taught less and less as the years go by. So they don't know. In a few years we're going to have the last of the World War II-era generation, that is, those who were born before the baby boomers and maybe some of the baby boomers as they pass from the scene and what will be left will be the post-baby boomers, the Gen-Xers and everyone else down to the Millennialists, those who were born in the 21st century, then what's going to happen is that they're so Biblically ignorant that they're going to become easily swayed.
We're at the high water mark of "philo-Semitism", which is the term opposite of anti-Semitism. It means those who love Israel and love the Jewish people. We're at the high water mark. The bad guys are gaining ground. We need to understand this because this is a flashpoint. One of my favorite quotes from church history is a quote from Martin Luther, who said, "If we defend the fortress at every point other than the one at which it's being attacked, we will lose the battle." So we have to define what the attack points are and we have to defend the castle at those points. That's what I'm talking about, the gospel, hermeneutics, dispensationalism, Israel, the role of the Holy Spirit, and sanctification. These are the primary places at which the battle is taking place in our generation.
We may not like that. I don't like the fact that I've had to spend a lot of time studying Islam over the last ten years. I really don't care anything about Islam. It doesn't do anything to get me excited. But that's the battle today. We're in a religious war whether this country wants to admit it or not. We are the objects of a religious war coming from Islam. If we don't recognize that, we're just living in a fantasy world. So we have to figure out where the attacks are and we have to shape our thinking to defend the fortress at those points, whether we like those points or not. We can't pick and choose the battlefield. The battlefield gets picked and chosen by many other factors.
So the last couple of lessons are background to understanding the importance of the doctrine we're going to cover in Romans 9-11. I've been addressing these basic, foundational issues. We started with the issue of interpretation. Today that's really the issue. What does the Bible mean? Not so much what does it say, because a lot of people will agree with what it says, but what does it mean? We see a reflection that battle in the culture wars in our nation over the interpretation of the Constitution. Everyone knows what it says. People even know what the Founding Fathers meant. But as I heard one guy who called in on talk radio say, "Who cares what the Founding Fathers thought? Who cares what they said? Let's get our noses out of the history books and just make law for today." That person just absolutely showed their ignorance in terms of their total thinking. A person who is ignorant of history is bound to repeat history and repeat the worst mistakes of history.
Numerous people are making comments that way. We have to know the historical background of things so we not only don't repeat those things but so we can really understand what's going on today and why it's going on so we can respond to it. Hermeneutics and interpretation is part of that. So as I pointed out in the previous lessons, the two basic errors we're facing here in terms of the role and relationship of Israel and the church are first of all replacement theology, which I partially got into last time, and anti-Semitism. Probably won't get there until next time.
What's given rise to both is a non-literal, allegorizing, spiritualizing method of interpreting the Scripture. In other words, the view that we hold of Scripture is that you interpret the Scripture in the light of its immediate context. That's called the historical method of interpretation. We do it in light of the normal meaning of the language, the words, and the grammar. That's where we get the phrase "the historical, grammatical interpretation of Scripture." So we go into the lexical meanings of the words and their relationship to the sentences and the syntax. All of this is important and is arranged the way it is by God and is significant.
We interpret these things in terms of their normal usage. Part of normal usage includes things like figures of speech but figures of speech have a literal meaning as I've pointed out in the past. So we need to look and understand these things. Some of what I'm covering here may seem a little academic to some of you but it's important as a pastor for me to make sure you understand and can identify where the wolves are and where the weeds are because you're, as a sheep going out, you're exposed to all kinds of stuff that comes into your mind from television to the news to whatever it might be, neighbors, people talking, and whatever. You need to be aware of this so you can develop your grid of discernment.
We have this emphasis in Romans 9:4-5 that the covenants, the promises still belong to Israel. That means that Jews today, regardless of whether they're Messianic Jews, Buddhists Jews, secular Jews, atheist Jews, Hindu Jews, whatever, they still have a responsibility to the Abrahamic covenant to be circumcised. It doesn't make them more savable or less savable. It doesn't make them more spiritual or less spiritual because that wasn't its function. Its function was to indicate that they were a participant in the covenant that God made with Abraham. That covenant is still in effect. It's an eternal, everlasting covenant. It wasn't a soteriological covenant or even a covenant of sanctification.
We'll get into that a little more as we get into these issues in a few weeks related to that statement people go to and often misinterpret, "Jacob I love, Esau have I hated." This has to do with God's historical purposes for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not soteriology or sanctification. Everything goes back to that great covenant as it's summarized in Genesis 12:1-3. So just to review again David Cooper's Golden Rule of Interpretation: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, make no other sense. Therefore take every word at its ordinary, usual meaning unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise." That's the beauty of theology.
Last time we started on replacement theology. I have a couple of review slides just to get these definitions back in our mind. Replacement theology is the view that the Church is the new or true Israel and that it has permanently replaced or superseded national Israel or ethnic Israel as the people of God and therefore, national or ethnic Israel will not experience a restoration to the land as God promised or to a position of favor with God. In other words God had a plan for Israel but when they rejected the Messiah that purpose ended. They're no longer relevant. They're no longer ethnically any different than the Celts, the Mexicans, than the Spaniards, than the Asians, than the Japanese, the Siberians. They're not any different, nothing significant about them.
Therefore, there's nothing significant about the return of these Jews to the land. In fact, you'll even find some people who believe in various ethnic theories that these Jews today aren't even real Jews. They're Tsars, going back to a Russian king in the southern part of Russia who converted the whole Tsar Kingdom over to Judaism so they're not really ethnic Jews. There are a lot of different views. You get British Israelism, that the British are the ten lost tribes, other fantasy views that have nothing to do with history or the Bible.
So supersessionism comes from the word "super" and "sederi", meaning one person sits on the chair of another in Latin so the Church just completely replaces Israel. The promises God made to Abraham that he would inherit the land from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates suddenly becomes a metaphor for heaven. So for two thousand years from Abraham to Christ that was correctly interpreted and understood to be a physical piece of real estate. But once the Messiah was rejected, according to them, now that's heaven. It's not a literal piece of real estate. See this is a hermeneutical shell game. They change the meaning and it has an implication for the faithfulness of God. It indicates that God may change the meaning of the terms of your salvation and maybe your salvation is secure today but maybe in a few centuries maybe you're not. That's terrible theology!
Walt Kaiser said that "Replacement theology declared that the Church, Abraham's spiritual seed, had replaced national or ethnic Israel in that it had transcended and fulfilled the terms given to Israel, which covenant Israel had lost because of disobedience." In other words, God had a condition in the Abrahamic covenant that if you don't obey Him then this covenant's over with. And that wasn't there.
Ronald Diprose in his book on Israel says that, "Replacement theology is the view that the Church completely and permanently replaced ethnic Israel in the outworking of God's plan and as the recipient of Old Testament promises to Israel."
I pointed out there were four different types of replacement theology or supersessionism. Political, punitive, economic, and structural supersessionism and I'm not going to go back over the definitions of those.
So what are the core beliefs of replacement theology? First of all, national Israel has somehow forfeited its status as the people of God and will never, ever, ever again possess a unique role apart from the Church. There's no distinction between Israel and the Church. This is one of the things that Charles Ryrie, professor of theology at Dallas Seminary when I was there, said in his book on dispensationalism. "There are three things that were unique and these three things together distinguished dispensationalism. One was a consistent, plain, literal interpretation of Scripture. Second, when you do that you will hold to a distinction between Israel and the Church." His third characteristic was "that the overriding purpose of Scripture in history was the glory of God", not just salvation which is what covenant theology does but that's another story.
So this is one of the two key distinguishing facets of dispensationalism. The second core belief of replacement theology is that the Church is now true Israel, not ethnic Israel. So even the term "Israel" changes its meaning. Israel means the Church and the Church means Israel. Israel in the Old Testament is the Church of the New Testament. Israel is just a code word, according to them, for anyone who is a believer. That violates the principle of interpretation. Third core belief is that the result of this is that the Church has become the sole inheritor of God's covenant blessings, originally promised to national or ethnic Israel in the Old Testament and thus, this rules out any future restoration of national Israel.
Therefore, if you believe this, then you don't believe there's any significance to present day Israel. How do you think that's going to change how you view U.S. foreign policy? There is an implication in both views but if you hold to replacement theology, then it's going to change your perception of what goes on in the Middle East. Ronald Diprose in his book says, "For replacement theology to qualify as a Biblical option, passages which allow such an interpretation are not enough." See, one of the things people don't understand is that there are certain passages when you take them out of context they could mean this or they could mean that but when you compare them with other Scripture and when you work out their implications they can't mean those other things. They are in one sense possible but they are excluded as you think through the implications of those views. So even though there are some passages which may allow that, it's not enough to say that's what it means.
There needs to also be very positive passages which clearly teach the position and no passages that actually exclude it. So replacement theology fails on both counts. In terms of replacement theology they say the Church is the new spiritual Israel and replaces the Jewish people, which they say is the "old fleshly Israel." They say Israel nationally just represents the flesh so they conclude that Israel was therefore an object lesson in sin and judgment. Can you see how that might lead to anti-Semitism? You just don't have too much respect for the Jewish people if that's your belief.
The church, they say, is the elect for all the ages, so it existed in the Old Testament. They believe that Jews who believe today are no longer Jewish, that the issue of Israel and the Jews are no longer relevant in the Church Age. Now if you remember, Tuesday night a week ago in Acts, I taught about this problem of what Paul said about circumcision. And that he had Timothy circumcised while at the same time, basically, he's written in Galatians 5 that if you get circumcised, you're really under the whole Law so you really shouldn't do that. I pointed out that either Paul is completely contradictory of himself or he's talking about two different concepts.
In Galatians he's clearly talking about those who think that circumcision will get you something in salvation or in the spiritual life. Whereas with Timothy there's just an issue with his cultural acceptability so that he can gain a hearing without having irrelevant issues become issues while he's ministering. In the course of the history of these ideas, people have gotten the idea from the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which says that if you've been baptized into Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, that that means that Jewishness is no longer relevant. That's not what the passage is saying. What it's saying is that ethnic distinctions, gender distinctions, and economic distinctions, in that passage, no longer impact the individual believer's direct access to God. It doesn't mean that there aren't still distinctions between men and women or between Jews and Gentiles or between slaves and freemen. There are distinctions but they don't impact their direct access to God.
So this idea has bled over even into some area of dispensationalists who teach that Jewishness no longer matters. It does matter. They're still under the Abrahamic covenant. It doesn't matter in terms of their justification or their sanctification but they're still of value historically to their ethnic relationship to Abraham. So the fourth point here is that the covenant with Jews, according to replacement theology, is completely nullified.
Now I'm going to run through seven observations related to replacement theology. First, it teaches that the Church replaces or supersedes the nation, Israel, as the people of God. This view goes back to the middle of the 2nd Century A.D. You can see hints of it even in the early part of the 2nd century. For example take the epistle of Barnabas. It's not a canonical epistle and it probably wasn't written by Barnabas but it does date to the early part of the first century, maybe 110 or 120 and in it we read, "But He [Jesus] was manifested in order that they, the Israelites, might be perfected in their iniquities. And that we being the constituted heirs through Him might receive the testament of the Lord Jesus. Therefore He has circumcised our ears that we might hear His Word and believe for the circumcision in which they trusted is abolished. For He declared that circumcision was not of the flesh but they transgressed because an evil angel deluded them." Where did that come from?
So there's this incipient anti-Semitism that was starting to creep into the church. The Jews were starting to be blamed as Christ-killers. Many early Church theologians promoted replacement theology. Church history is so important to understand. I learned more about theology from studying Church history from ever studying systematic theology because you see it in the real time events of the debates that went on between people in trying to understand the Scriptures. You see it brought out in a little more relief.
In the last part of the Patristic era, which is the first three hundred years after Christ's death, there was a growing acceptance of the replacement view. Factors such as the reception of the two destructions of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and again in 135 and the growing Gentile composition of the Church, in combination with the trend toward allegorical interpretation, led to a full blown replacement theology by roughly 300 A.D. You had the statesmen like Justin Martyr around 150 who was the first person to explicitly identify the Church as Israel. Then you have Irenaeus, a Church father, who said, "In as much as the Jews have rejected the Son of God and cast Him out of the vineyard when they slew Him, God has justly rejected them and given to the Gentiles outside the vineyard the fruits of the cultivation." So we see this kind of thing going on.
Melito of Sardis, A.D. 180, says, "Israel was precious before the Church arose. The Law was marvelous before the gospel was elucidated. But when the Church arose and the gospel took precedence, this model was made void, conceding its power to the reality. Israel was made void when the Church arose."
Next is Clement of Alexandria. Now last time I pointed out in hermeneutics the difference between Alexandria in Egypt, right on the Mediterranean, that they had become the heirs to Greek philosophy and Platonism. They became a center of allegorical interpretation.
In contrast, was Antioch. It's the same Antioch we've been studying as the home base for Paul's missionary journeys. Antioch was dominated by thinking in terms of a literal interpretation of Scripture. So which group do you think was a millennial? The Alexandrians. Which group was premillennial? The ones in Antioch. They believed in a literal millennial. So theology makes a difference in how you perceive these things. Now Origen came out of Alexandria and he formalizes allegorical interpretation and that wins out in the early Church. You see these ideas are already present there.
Tertullian said that "Israel had been divorced from God." Cyprian is also another early Church father by 250 who stated, "I have endeavored to show that the Jews according to what had been foretold had departed from God, had lost God's favor, which had been given to them in past times and had been promised them for the future while the Christians had seceded to their place." See it's much more refined now, this idea of replacement theology.
By the time Constantine made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire, you get the introduction with his idea of Roman political rule which is wedded to Christianity and this non-literal view of the kingdom now which begins to enter into the thinking of the western Church. So they saw the new covenant in Christ as a replacement for the old Mosaic covenant which represented Judaism and the Jewish people as a whole. Now historically, this led to statement where the Church was seen to be the fulfillment and replacement of Jewish ecclesiastical structures.
Recently, within the last ten years Pope John Paul II said that the Roman Catholic Church rejected replacement theology. What's happening is you have to read between the lines and understand the nuances here. After the Holocaust, replacement theology has been so identified with the Holocaust that nobody in their right mind really wants to say they believe in replacement theology. So the Roman Catholic Church comes out with a formal statement a few years ago that said they reject their replacement theology but the Jews can't call themselves the chosen people anymore. Do you hear the contradiction there? If the Jews aren't the chosen people you've just validated replacement theology. They're trying to say that replacement theology is a narrow definition of those who are wickedly anti-Semitic but they still believe the Church superseded the Jews. They just don't want to go too far in light of the Holocaust. So they see the Church as the new people of God.
Now the second observation of this is that replacement theology has been the dominant view of the organized Church since the 3rd century until the middle of the 19th century. So if your dominant view is replacement theology, how many people are going to talk about the Rapture? They're not going to even think about the Rapture. That's why dispensationalism basically disappeared into the corners and crevices of Church history because the dominant view was amillennialism, allegorical interpretation, and replacement theology. You can't get to dispensationalism unless you believe in a literal hermeneutic and a distinction between Israel and the Church. It won't happen. So that's why it's such a late development.
There are elements of it very early in the Church and more and more scholars are finding more and more evidence of a pre-trib Rapture and other uniquely dispensationalist ideas much, much earlier in Church history. It wasn't really a main idea so it was sort of buried off to the side. In the Patristic era they mixed a lot of these areas together so that leads to the idea of a replacement theology and pretty much ends the hope of any national Israel in the future. By the end of the Patristic era you had this incredible individual by the name of Augustine who was brilliant. He formalizes allegorical interpretation and an amillennial theology and many, many other things and also the idea that salvation is only in the church, meaning the Romans Catholic Church.
People ask when the Catholic Church started. It depends on what your criterion is. It's probably somewhere between 600 and 800. These other ideas began to coalesce a little bit earlier. Augustine introduces ideas that are hostile to Israel. According to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Augustine introduced a negative element into judgment on the Jews. He did this by advancing this theory of substitution whereby the new Israel of the Church became a substitute for ancient Israel. So the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages was supersessionist.
If you want to know how Germany, which was considered the most civilized nation in Europe in the 19th century, degenerated into the Nazi Party and the Holocaust in the mid-20th century, it goes back to this. It's bred into the thinking of much of Europe. It goes back to the idea that the Jews are evil and they have been replaced by the Church. Martin Luther and John Calvin also held to this view and it wasn't until you get to the Puritans that things began to change. Three of the great individuals who were influential were Plato, with the introduction of Greek philosophy which played a major role in Augustine's view that the Church was the spiritual form of the kingdom and that the Jews were people to witness to and he held to a millennialism. Calvin held to the same kind of views. All are supersessionists. Calvin got much of his theology from Augustine and it's also covenantal.
How does covenant theology view Israel's national promises? They're spiritualized into the Church. How does covenant theology view Israel and the Church? They're one people of God, which is a buzzword. When I went through seminary a lot of these things were a little fuzzy, especially when you get this new idea called progressive dispensationalism. People were wondering what it was. Proponents of progressive dispensationalism tried to argue it was just a refinement and others, like Bruce Waltke, who was a former professor at Dallas, when he read their position said they were just covenant theologians and they don't want to admit it. They've become amillennialist and they don't want to admit it.
There are dangers in these ideas and we have to know what they are. Jerusalem, Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), for them is fulfilled. The Old Testament is annulled. Jerusalem is no longer significant. The Temple doesn't need to be rebuilt. They're post-Millennial, amillennial or preterists, which means they think it was all fulfilled back in A.D. 70. Armageddon is just figurative.
How many people think of Armageddon as something other than a literal battle that takes place in relationship to the Valley of Megiddo, located in the Galilee in Israel? Most people think if an asteroid is coming its Armageddon. We've discovered atomic bombs. It's Armageddon. Armageddon has become a metaphorical term but it's not used that way in the Bible. This view comes out of replacement theology.
There's just one visible event at the end of history for them, the return of Jesus. The Millennial is not a thousand year period, it's just a figurative event. This comes out of Stephen Sizer's book, Christian Zionism. He is a major proponent of replacement theology and he hates Christian Zionists.
On the cover of his book on replacement theology Michael J. Vlach uses these two figures, two statues which are in the Strasbourg Cathedral that were designed in 1230 A.D. This is before the Protestant Reformation. This is at the very height of a millennial allegorical interpretation. These two figures represent the Church, ecclesia, and the one on the right representssunagoge. They represent the Church and Israel. This represents the view of the Church and Israel in the Middle Ages. It shows a supersession symbolism. ecclesia is standing tall and erect, wearing a crown and is in a dominant position whereas sunagoge, Israel, is blinded as a symbol of their blindness and spiritual status.ecclesia has a scepter representing rule. sunagoge has a dead stick indicating her despised and cast-off, wandering status. Since the Law has been abrogated Israel has been rejected. Notice the Law is a closed book held down by her side to show it's no longer relevant or significant. That statue is a depiction of replacement theology.
It was in the Middle Ages that you started to see the rise of Christian anti-Semitism. You saw caricatures of the Jews and places where they had to wear badges or certain signs. This is when they're first put into ghettos, restricted to certain areas of a city, and they couldn't do business or go out of that area. It's also at that time that you have the first rise in the 12th century in Norwich, England of the "blood libel". The blood libel was the view that Jews used the blood of Christian babies to make matzo for Passover. That comes up time and again. One of the most famous instances occurred in 1839 in Damascus. Five Jews were arrested and put on trial and I believe Charles Churchill, an uncle of Winston Churchill, went to their defense and won the case so they were set free. This blood libel has cropped up again and again and again throughout Church history. Jews were described as devils and made to wear yellow rings and badges to show they were nothing of value to Christians. So this idea of Hitler having the Jews wear the yellow Star of David's didn't start with the Nazis. This goes back to the Christians in the early Middle Ages.
Third observation: Since the mid-19th century replacement theology has received serious criticism and widespread rejection. Over the last 150 years there's been a backlash to it but it's overly caricatured and it's often identified as something related to that which brought up the Holocaust. There's a shift away from this more overt supersessionism. David Holwerda in his book, Jews & Israel: One Covenant or Two, states, "The traditional view that the Church has superseded Israel which no longer has a role in God's plan of redemption is no longer dominant. Even though no consensus has developed on how to evaluate the present position on the future role of Israel. The negative tones prominent in the Church's traditional view has been mostly muted." But they're still there. They just want to call it something else.
Now what's grown out of replacement theology which is really spooky and scary because of its influence today is something called "Christian Palestinianism." The term was coined by Paul Wilkinson, a member of the Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group. He usually gives a paper every year. He wrote his PhD dissertation on the role of John Nelson Darby and the rise of Christian Zionism. It's the antithesis of those who believe in Christian Zionism. Let's define Christian Zionism. There's a lot of weird Christians out there. We've got to love them because God loves them and they're our brothers and sisters in Christ but they're a little bit off-balance. They want to show up wearing Jewish prayer shawls and blowing a shofar and doing all this because they've almost assigned a mystical, magical quality to people who are Jewish. We've got to love them because they love Jews. They love Israel and they love the Bible but you don't want some people to go out in public too much. The reason I bring that up is because I've had conversations with some people who've only run into the wacko extreme so they think that's what Christian Zionism is. That's not Christian Zionism at all.
Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people have a right to return and establish a national homeland in their historic homeland, the land God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less. It doesn't mean you validate everything the state of Israel does, every political decision. They have a right of return just as the Italians had a right to unite and have a nation and the Germans had the right to unite and have a nation, and the same with the Czechs and the Hungarians, the French. The Jews have the right to have a Jewish nation with defensible borders which is on the basis of self-defense and the right to have secure borders and to live in their national homeland without fear of people shooting rockets at them every day or blowing themselves up on their buses. They can do whatever is legal and normal for any other nation to protect themselves and to provide security. That's what Zionism is.
Christian Zionism comes from Christians who believe that's true but they add a new wrinkle. They believe there's a Biblical basis for the Jews returning to their homeland and Christians should support that because they see it as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Actually, when you and I talk to a lot of people who aren't Christians they don't care what the Bible says. They're more concerned about other facets.
There are three lines of argument to support the return of the Jews to the land. There's the Biblical argument which we're all familiar with. There's the historical argument that there have been Jews living in the land. They didn't disappear. I went through a long study several years ago where I traced this all the way through from 135 AD all the way up to the present. There's always been a Jewish population, a Jewish presence in the land. There's been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Not many because at times the Moslems ran them out, the Byzantines ran them out for a while, Hadrian ran them out for a while but there's always been a presence there.
Then there's a legal argument based on the San Remo Resolutions coming out of the end of World War I. But all three of those lines of reasoning are rejected by these Christian Palestinians and you find this in a lot of Christian denominations. It is the official position of the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., the Church of England, and the United Methodist Church. I don't think the Evangelical Methodist Church believes this. There's a pastor of an Evangelical Methodist Church down in Sugar Land and I've run into him on my way back from Israel the last two years. He's very pro-Israel. Others who hold to this view are the National Council of Churches, the Church of Scotland, the Reformed Church of America, the Methodist Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, Bethlehem Bible College, which has sponsored this Christ at the Checkpoint anti-Zionist, anti-Israel rally for several years, World Vision, World Council of Churches.
What's the view of these? This comes out of the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism and says, "We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the Biblical message of love, justice, and reconciliation." You didn't know that what you believe corrupts the Biblical message of love, justice, and reconciliation, did you? "With urgency we warn against Christian Zionism and its justification of colonization of apartheid and empire building." I'll talk about that next time under anti-Semitism.
The Church of Scotland says, "Christian Zionism seeks openly to use the Jewish Zionist cause in order to achieve its own theological and political reality. Christian Zionist worldview has cataclysmic consequences for religiously integrated lasting peace in Palestine." See, it's all your fault, you are a Christian Zionist! The problem is what you believe. That's why there's a problem in the Middle East. It's your fault. You're Christian Zionists. You believe that God has a future plan for Israel. They go on to say, "Christian Zionism portrays an unjust God with an unjust people and seeks to exclude and arguably eliminate whatever is perceived to be alien to its cause."
Okay, another group that started up that has really promoted this is known as Sabeel. At the Fifth International Sabeel Conference in Jerusalem 2004, they said, "We warn that the theology of Christian Zionism is leading to the moral justification of empire colonization of apartheid and oppression." Sounds like Democrats talking about George Bush, doesn't it? John Stott, a very well-known British scholar, author of numerous books says, "I, myself, believe that Zionism, both political and religious, is incompatible with Christian faith." Then we get Hank Hanegraef, Bible Answer Man, who used to be on radio here, says, "Christian Zionist beliefs and behaviors are the antithesis of Biblical Christianity."
Now here's a good one from Gilbert Bilezikian, one of the founders of Willow Creek Community Church. The pastor is Bill Hybels and back in the 90s this was the largest church in the U.S. It's been superseded now by Lakewood here in Houston. Willow Creek funded a movie that is very anti-Zionist. It's called "With God on Our Side." Bill Hybel's wife and daughter are main promoters of this movie. Also, Rick Warren with the "purpose-driven heresy" coming out of southern California has done so much to destroy orthodoxy but he does it very subtly has also gotten on board with this.
So we need to know who the players are. A lot of you like to watch Fox News and for some reason, people at Fox News like to have Rick Warren on so you always have to know who the wolves in sheeps' clothing are. Tony Compolo who is another popular Christian speaker, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University and a former faculty member at University of Pennsylvania says, "The most serious threats to the well-being of Palestinians in general and to the Christian Palestinians in particular come not from the Jews but from Christian Zionists in the United States."
So what are their basic beliefs? Most of this we've hit on already but they strongly reject literal interpretation in favor of spiritual hermeneutic, strongly reject dispensationalist which they love to hate. They affirm Liberation Theology. Hello, where have we heard of liberation theology before? This is socialism and Marxism applied and dressed up in Christian terminology. Does the name Jeremiah Wright mean anything to anybody? This was Obama's pastor up in Chicago. Jeremiah Wright holds to black Liberation Theology.
There's black, Palestinian, and all these different things but they're all basically the same thing: anti-Christian, anti-freedom, anti-truth. They believe that "modern Israel has no connection with or justification for owning the promised land, that modern Israel is an apartheid state." Now Melanie Philips is one of the good people. I love to read her books, one of which is called "Londonistan" talking about the danger of the Islamic community in Britain and how that's changing things states, "So when Arab Christians reinterpreted Scripture in order to delegitimize the Jews claim to Israel, this kick-started replacement theology. [She's a little off on her history there but she's basically right.] which roared back into the imagination and sermons of the Anglican Church." See the Anglican Church I the 19th century was very pro-Israel and very pro-Israel. That's what produced the great leaders who led up to the Balfour Declaration. Melanie Philips goes on the say, "This revision isn't held that Palestinian Arabs were the original possessors of the Land of Israel".
There was no such thing as a Palestinian up until Arafat decided to co-opt the term Palestine which up until the mid-60s was used to apply to Jews. The Palestinian Brigade in the British Army were Jews and they wore a Palestinian Brigade patch but they were Jew and they weren't Arabs. That's all been distorted. Two hundred years ago there were just very, very few Arabs who lived in the land. Most of them were Bedouins or poor tenant farmers and nothing was going on.
In fact, one of the things I learned this last trip is one of the reason Israel was devastated so much of the 19th century was that the Ottoman Empire imposed a tax on trees. What do you think the unintended consequence of that tax was? Cut down all the trees. How does that change the environment? How does it change the topography? What's that going to do to the topsoil? It absolutely devastated the land so it was swampy, it was arid, the land wasn't worth anything, the topsoil was blown away in the hill country. It was terrible. So very few people wanted to even be there.
A couple of the key players in this whole movement. Elias Chacour is considered the godfather of Christian Palestinianism and he says, "We've been taught for centuries that the Jews are the chosen people of God. We do not believe any more that they are the chosen people of God since now we have a new understanding of the chosenness." This is what happens when you don't interpret the Bible right.
Naim Ateck says, "Strangers will stand and attend your flock and you shall eat the wealth of the nations. This exclusiveness text is unacceptable today. It must be de-Zionanized." Just get out our razor blades and reinterpret Bible. He also says that Samson was the first suicide bomber. I thought you'd like that. "Christian Zionists thrive on war and conflict…" It's all our fault! "Christian Zionist harbor an obsession with the Battle of Armageddon."
Some of those who went on that first trip to Israel remember when Wayne House allowed a film crew to come along and film us. It was a big mistake. They turned it into a horrible movie. I'm not even going to tell you the name of it but one of the contentions is that we just loved and anticipated the Battle of Armageddon. They twisted everything we said. They say the only reason we want to get the Jews back to the land is so Jesus will come kill them all at the Battle of Armageddon, you anti-Semite you. I'd never heard that before. I had made a mistake. My mistake was that sometimes I don't like to go away on conferences because I can't see the immediate relevance. Right after I moved back here Tommy and Randy went to one of these groups' major conferences in Chicago. They called me up to go with them but I had Bible class. Well, if I had learned what I had learned there we wouldn't have gotten sucked into that awful thing. That's why I go to conferences, to be informed. There's so much garbage out there today.
Okay. Naim Ateck who is one of the leaders, the foremost thinkers in Christian Palestinianism says, "When confronted with a difficult passage in the Bible one needs to ask such simple questions as "is the way I'm hearing this the way I've come to know God in Christ?" See it's totally subjective. He says, "Does this fit the picture I have of Jesus that God has revealed to me?" See, you don't just go see what the text says. You just have this subjective image of Jesus and then you fit your beliefs into that. That's what's called idolatry.
Colin Chapman is another thinker. He says "The New Testament writers ceased to look forward to a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies of a return to the land and a restored Jewish state." You may say that hearing this is boring and you don't like it but this is really gaining traction. I hate studying stuff like this because it doesn't seem real edifying, but it's protective. Okay, this is what's going on and it's increasing in its exposure. Stephen Sizer is a guy you just hate to have on the other side. Why? Because he grew up as a Christian Zionist. He says, "As a young Christian at Sussex University in the mid-70s I was strongly influenced by Christian Zionist leaders such as Tim LeHaye, David Posit, and Hal Lindsey, devouring his bestselling book, "The Late, Great Planet Earth" and hearing in person his lectures on eschatology and the book of Revelation, it seemed that the Bible was literally coming true in this generation. My conversion came in two parts [to Christian Palestinianism]…" I'll just skip a couple of these quotes but you get the idea.
In Galatians 6:16 he said, "This is perhaps the Apostle Paul's most stark example of universalizing the new identity of the people of God." That's the phrase where Paul says, "greet the Israel of God." What's he's talking about is greet the Jews who are believers. Israel always means the Jewish people everywhere it's used in Scripture. But among the allegorizers they want to take that phrase and say that applies to the Church, the New Israel. So that's a battlefield passage. Sizer says, "The Apostle is redrawing the definition for self-identity and with this new definition comes a realignment of the privileges that come with all identities." He is a major influence in Britain.
Then we have N.T, Wright. Now why is N.T. Wright important? Because he has influenced at least one pastor who we ordained at Berachah twenty years ago and he has influenced others and it's causing problems in some churches who have members who are family members of folks in this congregation. N.T. Wright says, "Israel's story has been embodied in one man, Jesus. The whole story of Israel reached its intended climax with His death and His resurrection. His death is the exile of Israel and the resurrection is restoration of Israel." See how allegory works there. He says, "The church seems to have taken the place occupied by Jewish ethnic identity. The Lord Jesus was reconstituting Israel around Himself, reinterpreting Israel's eschatological hope, no longer literal, and reusing Israel's prophetic heritage retelling it story and redefining what the kingdom meant. The promises to Jerusalem to Zion are now transferred to Jesus and His people." Pure replacement theology. He goes on to say, "The American obsession with the Second Coming of Jesus, especially with distorted interpretations of it continues unabated. Seen from my side of the Atlantic the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre."
Then we have this quote form Alan Hart who is a British journalist. I ran across a picture of him at a conference he's attending entitled, "Zionism, the Real Enemy of the Jews." He said, "It's time to give Israel's hardcore Zionists their real name. They are the new Nazis. If Europeans and Americans don't stop the new Nazis, it's likely their endgame will be the extermination of millions of Palestinians." So we're the new Nazis!
Okay, I'm going to run through this very quickly. "Those who hold the replacement supersession view often use replacement terminology but reject the idea they're replacement theologians. Here's one from dear old Bruce Waltke who says, "The New Testament teaches the hard fact that national Israel and its law have been permanently replaced by the Church and the New Covenant. The Jewish nation no longer has a place as the special people of God. That place has been taken by the Christian community which fulfills God's purpose for Israel."
Observation five: Those who argue for fulfillment, enlargement language or transference language do not use different arguments than those who use replacement language. What this point is saying is that the term that people want to use today is fulfillment, enlargement, or transfer but it's all a word game.
Sixth observation: Replacement theology is a legitimate title for the view that the Church supersedes or replaces Israel. That's what it is and that's what it means.
Last observation: Nations and promises to nations are not unspiritual nor are they things that need to be transcended. Replacement theology talks about Israel being redefined and physical land promises being transcended by greater spiritual reality but where does the Bible ever indicate that nations are unspiritual or lesser types that must give way to greater spiritual realities? Their whole methodology is flawed so they end up with a complete false view.
Now one last quote from Gary Burge a major influence and teacher at Wheaton. Wheaton has often been thought by a lot of people to be conservative. Trust me, folks. Wheaton hasn't been Biblically conservative in their theology since World War II. Lots of people sent their kids off to Wheaton to get a good Christian education and they were spiritually eviscerated by the lousy theology at Wheaton. Wheaton hasn't had somebody believe in literal Genesis creation since about 1950. Gary Burge says, "Reform theologians are not at all convinced that the promises to Abraham, much less Moses, are still theologically significant today. The work of Christ is definite. There's one covenant and it's with Christ."
That's the issue with replacement theology. Next time I want to look at the issue related to anti-Semitism and this is growing. According to the Anti-defamation League anti-Semitism is on a huge growth spurt worldwide. For the last sixty years since the end of World War II it wasn't, because the anti-Semites were put in the shadows by the horrors of the Holocaust. But people and cultures have short memories. History disappears and vanishes into the midst of time and we're on the cusp of a rising anti-Semitism. It's increasing by leaps and bounds all over Europe and that's just Christian anti-Semitism. Then you have Islamic anti-Semitism and that is also fueling the Middle East.
It's not about the Palestinians. If you had a scale on cultural value, the Arabs think that the scum on the bottom of the ocean are the Palestinians. That's why they don't want to let them there in their country. They just leave them there to rot in these displaced person's camps as just something to fester so they can keep tweaking Israel. They don't care at all about the so-called Palestinian Arabs and have done nothing for them and that's just been demonstrated in history. They just view them as a tool to fight those evil Zionists in Israel.
Next time when we come back I want to look at anti-Semitism, its Biblical roots, its historical and present manifestations. Then we've covered a good foundation for going into Romans 9-11. Romans 9-11 affirms very strongly that God has not deserted His people Israel. Why is that important? Because if God goes back on His promises to Israel then how do you know that God's not going to go back on His promises to save you? This is all about eternal security. Trust me.