|A8 : by Tony Garland |
To begin with, I would like to observe that we attempt to derive our theology directly from God's word and not from convictions about whether or how we can try to correct historic abuses of the past—as regretful as they are.
Concerning my views of Israel and the Church, they are based not on Jew/Gentile distinctions, but on the distinctively new work of baptism by the Holy Spirit which defines the body of Christ—a new creation at Pentecost. (See our presentation titled The Promise of Pentecosta.) Prior to Pentecost, there was no body of Christ — no baptizing work by the Holy Spirit (John 3:38-39) and therefore no Church. Since Pentecost, all believers are baptized into the body of Christ which is the Church (1Cor. 12:13).
This is the basis for the distinction between Israel and the Church.
Therefore, this distinction continues until the baptism of the Spirit is no more—which I believe occurs with the removal of the restrainer at the Rapture. As we state very clearly in our doctrinal statementb (and course materials dealing with this area), this is the basis, along with other passages, for our belief that the church will not undergo the Tribulation.
As to the view that Israel will endure the Tribulation, we are no more anti-Semitic in our view that the Day of the Lord is Israel's time of trouble than were Jeremiah or Daniel:
Alas! For that day [is] great, So that none [is] like it; And it [is] the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it. (Jer 30:7)
"At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands [watch] over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, [Even] to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. (Da 12:1)
Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who [was] above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that [it shall be] for a time, times, and half [a time]; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these [things] shall be finished. (Da 12:7)
In their original context, these statements concern Israel's destiny as given by God—they are not our ideas. Our job is mainly to understand them and teach them to those who have ears to hear what God has said.
As to our teaching concerning Israel, I can point you to our course on Israel:
One point of clarification: we are not the Conservative Theological Society (CTS), but merely members who share their convictions concerning what Scripture teaches. You can find their website at:
Regarding one of your statements:
I know that your doctrinal statement refers to classical dispensationalism that includes a clear separation between Israel and the Church. While I share this view in part, I feel that it is basically an ivory tower distinction that does not have the courage to face the immense guilt and damage that was done to the Jewish people throughout Church History till this very day and it fails the realities of the present day.
The main reservation I have with your statement is that it seems to indicate that theology should be derived from history and a desire to rectify past wrongs rather than the exegesis of God's word alone. While I agree that history shows grave mistakes on the part of the Church (and also Israel—who rejected her Messiah), history is not the source for my theology concerning the Church/Israel distinction. This comes from God's word alone.
Here are a couple of other articles that deal with the Church/Israel distinction—which relates directly to the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit:
I can appreciate that you may have different views. While I believe I share your concern for Israel and understanding the proper Jewish context of Scripture, and especially the continuation of their promises, I do not see the Church/Israel distinction as unscriptural nor ivory tower. It is the simple teaching of God's word—regardless of history. You seem to feel the Church/Israel distinction should be blurred. We do not—we see it as a function of the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit.