|Q356 : Replacement Theology and Jewish Evangelism|
I am trying to understand the reason why some fellow Christians who hold to replacement theology (or supercessionism) seem to get extremely irritated when they see Jewish evangelism from dispensationalists that is the outworking of dispensationalism. Even though they profess that it is a good thing the gospel reached out to the Jews.
- I have a feeling that many strands of replacement theology base their soteriology (who Jesus is, who He saves on the cross, the significance of the cross, what the church is) on supercessionism. “Jesus can save because somehow God is moving on to the wider whole world/Gentiles instead of Israel only”, or “Because God has transformed Israel into the Church so He can save sinners now Instead of just Israel”. So they are naturally upset to hear that God will restore Israel, because in their eyes this would mean Jesus cannot save non-Jews from their sins if He is on earth to save God’s firstborn. I’m not sure if this is the right way to look at that, are you able to help me how replacement theology believers formulate this thoughts? And how to respond to such line of thought?
- One can argue this is related to whether God elects Israel the nation, or elects individual believers regardless of race to salvation and put into the church (particular redemption/limited atonement). Which can explain why many 5-point Calvinists are militant supercessionists and have no time for national Israel. However there are plenty of Arminian or other strands of non-Calvinist supercessionists around, so I don’t see how relevant the doctrine of Individual predestination for salvation Is exclusively tied to supercessionism. Do you have any thoughts on this? Can we support The doctrine of election Without supporting supercessionism/replacement theology?
|A356 : by Tony Garland |
To take each of your questions in turn:
- It seems to me that the main issue is related to what is viewed as "preferential treatment" on the part of God. It seems that many believers are fine with God's preferential treatment of a particular people group in the Old Testament (e.g., calling Abraham, choosing Israel as a special treasure) but, once we transition to the New Testament, they see the cross as essentially erasing those distinctives. And, of course, there are passages supporting this idea in relation to aspects of God's work, namely: the way of salvation and our value/standing before God (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Although many in the replacement camp stand against egalitarianism (understand the context of these passages) and uphold election as taught in Scripture, they bristle at the idea that God would make a distinction among those who are saved in regard to continuing promises that are based on geopolitical factors (e.g., nationality). As to why? My take is that is has much to do with a faulty view of eschatology. To be specific: realized eschatology — the view that almost everything God was to accomplish in regard to spiritual restoration took place at the cross. Thus, for God to continue to have promises with geopolitical aspects extending past the cross is anathema in their view, because in the ultimate idealized restoration there is no room for differences among the people of God based on physical descent or nationality.
- We most certainly can uphold the doctrine of election without supporting supercessionism/replacement theology. In fact, it is God's very election of Israel on national terms which is an important element of the Biblical teaching on election (Romans 11:1,28-29). Where these folks have trouble is that they tend to see a future plan for Israel as extending unmerited grace to individuals based on their participation in a geopolitical entity (Israel, as a nation) rather than based on faith alone. But when Scripture is properly understood, we see that God's promises to the nation Israel do not find fruition in unbelieving Israel, but only believing Israel. Thus, this does not violate election based upon faith—for it is only those of faith within the house of Israel to which these national promises extend: "And so all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26)—no unbelieving Jews will be a party to this fulfillment. In this way, God's election of the nation (made up of unbelieving and believing Jews) eventually results in a geopolitical entity made up entirely of people of faith (election of the faithful aligns with election of the nation). In my view, this takes place when unbelievers are purged from Israel and the inner and outer rings between unbelieving/believing Jews of my diagram, Who is a True Jew?a, merge: the number of Jewish believers grows and the number of Jewish unbelievers shrinks (through persecution).