Replacement Theology

“Replacement Theology” is a relatively new term for me. I first heard of  it while listening to Kenneth Copeland about a year ago. Then, a couple of months ago, I had opportunity to be reunited with friends from my bible college days.

They are strong on emphasizing our Jewish roots. (See their website at http://www.foundationministriesinternational.org/) While in conversation with them about what they were doing these days, I was asked whether I believed the Church had replaced Israel in God’s economy.

Without taking time to fully define what I believe, nor to define the finer nuances of the question, I replied in the affirmative. “That’s replacement theology.” I was summarily brushed aside with that remark as if I had committed some grievous social faux pas.

A couple of weeks ago, I was following a thread on Facebook where this same friend was espousing more of an “inclusion theology.” (As I understand it, Christians are “included” in the promises of God to Israel.) The post was getting high marks from fans. This has potential for moving in the right direction, but does little to ameliorate the problem of divisiveness I see arising.

So, as is my tendency when faced with something that may lead me astray, I have researched (though only online; and certainly not thoroughly) the supposed error of Replacement Theology.

One of the arguments is that replacement theology is blamed for most anti-Semitic behavior among Christians. It is said that Hitler held to a replacement theology. This is akin to the so-called “gateway” argument that most (male) rapists read Playboy–therefore reading Playboy leads to rape. Or, the “gateway” argument that most hard-core drug addicts began with marijuana. Simply because many anti-Semites espouse Replacement Theology is not proof that the theology is wrong.

These same people also espouse other doctrines including the necessity that one be born again. Should I then assume that being born again leads to anti-Semitism? Of course not!

The other arguments are against the Scriptures that are used to prove replacement theology. This is merely an argument arising from one’s basis for understanding the Word of God–Dispensationalist or Covenantal. This is not the place for me to discuss these two views of Scripture. However, for the sake of full disclosure, I am more Covenantal than I am Dispensationalist. These differing views have profoundly differing interpretations of the Bible and God’s plan for man.

So, now, I am bothered.

I am bothered, for here I see yet another attempt to take people away from the plain and pure Word of God, and move them toward that which ultimately denies the simplicity that is in Christ.

Some–most assuredly not all–of those who are against replacement theology are also moving toward becoming more Jewish–at least in their approach to worship. This does not bode well for the Church.

Paul dealt with this problem when he penned the letter to the Galatians. He dealt with this problem when he went to Jerusalem to check his gospel against that of the Jewish disciples who had personally walked with Jesus.

There is a powerful move among Messianic Jews that is bringing many to the Lord. I love that. I love their music. But, as is true for the negative “gateway” argument, it is also true that just because Jews are reaching Jews for Christ is not an indication that Christians should become Jews–or Jewish Christians.

The danger lies not in that some are espousing a return to Jewish laws, but in that there are certain things we can do that will make us more pleasing to the Lord. “We should remember that Jesus was a Jew!” I am often told.

God tells us plainly through Paul that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith working through love (Gal. 5:6).

No one (to my knowledge) is teaching the necessity of being circumcised in order to be right with the Lord. That is simply the summation of Paul’s argument about the whole Jewish controversy in which the Galatian churches were embroiled.

The main point of Paul’s argument is that there is no necessity for the Gentiles to become like their Jewish brethren in any way.

And today there is no need to wear a talith (prayer shawl) when preaching, or to refer to Jesus as “Yeshua”, or to keep a Saturday Sabbath, or to use Jewish terms of greeting.

My reluctance to do any of the above in no way makes me a hater of the Jewish people, nor excludes me from the promises of God.

And my belief that “a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” is taken straight from the Scripture (Rom.2:29).

16 Responses to “Replacement Theology”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    You should be bothered. It is simply another of man’s subtle deceptions that lure us away from the simplicity of Christ in me, the hope of glory. Or, more directly, whatever is not of faith is sin. Romans 14:23.

    We simply are not willing to lay aside our selves. Self. The enemy of God. Self gets fulfillment from playing/acting the game/role of being Jewish. Or “natural.” Or “Hollywood.” Or “an environmentalist.” Or any other thing in which we attach our identity.

    Self does not want to die. In fact, very few Christians even realize there is a Self. They call it “me;” “who I am;” “my life.” And do not realize He is asking us to deny our Selves, take up His cross daily and follow Him. Luke 9:23.

    Jesus wants us to let all of that go. All of it. That our “self” would die in order that He might live in us. Matt 10:39 — He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (Think about this: He is the Life. And that Life is our light. In other words, that Life allows us to even SEE as we go through life. We do not really see [though we think we do] without that Life; yet we cling to Self and do not allow it [His Life] to go shine forth and lead.)

    When our identities are in being Jewish, or a good cook, or a teacher, or an expert carpenter or bricklayer, or a financier, we are missing out on the richness that comes from simply being His child. Period. Nothing else. What [astrological] sign am I? The cross.

    Yes, you are right in being bothered..

    • Dale Hill Says:

      I like that, Charlotte–When our identities are in being Jewish, or a good cook, or a teacher, or an expert carpenter or bricklayer, or a financier, we are missing out on the richness that comes from simply being His child.

      So, what I hear you saying is that there is an inherent weakness in those who find fulfillment in such non-issues. They need to know who they are in Christ.

  2. Charlotte Says:

    Your first comment paragraph touches on what I am trying to say, but there is actually more to it than that.

    I am not saying it is “wrong” or weak if one finds fulfillment in non-issues. I believe it is God’s will that we find fulfillment in most of life. The problem is when that becomes our identity. When we see ourselves as “the biker,” or a “musician,” or a “carpenter.”

    When it becomes an identity it becomes a mold and we both consciously and sub-consciously alter our behavior to fit that mold. And miss out on much of life. Which God wants us to liberally enjoy. The way others relate to us is affected as well, either once they know our concept of ourselves (our identity), or if they have put their own label (identity) upon us.

    I love music — to sing, to play the piano — but I do not see myself as “a musician.” I mean, yes, skill-wise I am a musician and I get great fulfillment from that, but that is not my identity. As an example, if I see myself as a musician (if that is the identity I take upon myself), then I might go out of my way to decorate my house with things of music. Because that is my identity. Maybe I would actually enjoy something different in my bedroom or bathroom, but I have already determined that being a musician is Who I Am and I want my home to reflect that, so I never even consider something else. Examples are always limiting but I hope you can relate to what I am trying to convey.

    The line is fine, I admit, but there IS a line between doing something you enjoy and doing something because we see ourselves as that is who we are. When we do something because that is who we are, by that very nature we ourselves put limits around what we see God doing in our lives. Will He still do things and bless us outside of our self-imposed boxes? Yes. But will we miss out on recognizing those things? Very likely. And is it wrong if, liking music, I hang a beautiful painting of something musical on my wall, or have bongo drums lying around my living room? No. But if I do, it should be because I simply enjoy them; not because they Make a Statement or reflect Who I Am.

    BTW, this is one huge reason I am so adamantly opposed to testing for personalities, spirituals gifts, etc. I am convinced they do a great deal of harm, especially to the body of Christ. In fact, I believe they are from Satan, used as a tool to keep us from being all we can be in Christ. I think all we ever need to know about ourselves and others can be fulfilled if we simply get our eyes off our Selves and walk in love one with another, treating each other the way we would like to be treated. God has a psychology and it is summed up in loving the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and our neighbor as ourselves.

  3. Charlotte Says:

    P.S. This is actually different from knowing who I am in Christ. But it IS an affirmation that my total identity is simply being a Child of God. Period.

  4. Charlotte Says:

    I really got off from your original question. But yes, by “identifying themselves” with the Jewish community, they think they somehow are living the gospel more purely, but, in reality, they are keeping themselves from experiencing the fullness of Christ.

  5. annie Says:

    Hello there, Dale! I’m out and about a bit in blogland, now, and thought I’d visit.

    This is a subject that I am strongly passionate about, as I believe that a person’s, country’s, or entity’s stance toward Israel is an enormous thing in the eyes of God. In reading what you have to say and what Charlotte has to say, I find that … there is a great deal of fogginess for me. Not on where I stand, but on where you(pl) stand, and what you are saying. But then I realize that I don’t necessarily need to understand all of that, and in fact a theological treatise is probably not what is needed at any rate.

    I hear a lot of pain in your words. I hear that these people hurt you with their cut and dried summation of you and your beliefs without attempting to understand what you really think and believe. I think they did do that to you, and I am very sorry. When one inflicts pain in the name of God, it is no small thing, and incurs so much confusion that it makes it very difficult for the hurting one to identify what has happened. I know a bit about this myself. So I want to tell you that I’m sorry that they hurt you so deeply, and let you know that someone does see the pain they caused.

    To my mind, it is not so much what a person believes about God that is the problem in their life, but rather how they treat their fellow man. Although the two are certainly entwined. “By this they will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” When we are handled without love, it speaks loudly to us that the one doing it is not a disciple of His. When we feel that, it is all too easy to point to what they believe as the problem. The problem, though, is not that their beliefs are in error, but that they hurt you. In our hearts, we don’t want to be like the one who caused pain. The reality though is that we will never discover the way to go by moving away from something. We only know by moving toward something. God does not have any direct opposites. So moving away from something He did not author will not automatically bring us to Him. We must first know where (and Who) He is. . .and then and only then can we follow.

    Thanks for making me think, Dale. Blessings to you!

    • Dale Hill Says:

      Good to see you again, Annie.
      Actually, it’s not about where one stands or doesn’t stand on an issue such as this; for this is not something that affects my position with the Lord. If it were true that believing in Replacement Theology made one a hater of the Jew, then, yes, that would make it dangerous. One of my points is that such is not the case. And though I didn’t state it, not believing it does not make one a lover of the Jew. Also, simply because some choose to emulate Jewishness in their manner of worship does not prove that they necessarily love the Jew.
      (There’s a lot here that borders on the argument from exclusion–ie, if I say I like chocolate pie, some will take it that I do not like coconut creme).
      As for the scriptural arguments for either side, it is still very plain to me that we have not yet arrived at the fulness of truth. Differing interpretations arise from one’s overall perspective of the plan and purpose of God. Those perspectives can be different, yet both be based in the Word.
      If it were my intent to argue for or against the “Replacement” concept, I would be forced to begin with a long theological discourse into many things (some of which I still know so little). Then, the idividual passages and verses would have to be considered–not only within their context, but also within a particular framework of understanding.
      When I read John 3:16, I am able to see that God loves Jews, Gentiles, Asians, Indians, Blacks, and me, too.

      • annie Says:

        I can certainly agree with your closing remarks. 🙂 And as I said, I really don’t feel that getting into a theological debate on the subject is what is needed, or what I want to do. Thank you for the probing thoughts, as always!

  6. Charlotte Says:

    Annie, you make a good point about the love issue. I would like to clarify at least for myself that I have loved every Jewish person I have ever known past the surface level. And I have never disliked anyone simply because he or she was Jewish. Actually, I usually love their personalities. I think God does still have a special place for them in His plan, but do not even begin to know what that is. Nor do i worry about it. I DO think scripture very clearly teaches that believers are the new Israel, though. Replacement Theology. (Believers replace natural Jews as Israelites.)

    Having said that, the reason you are in a fog is that I went off on a rabbit trail. A rabbit trail I feel passionately about, though. And that (the rabbit trial) is one of playing roles. And this is what I see believers doing when they choose to purposely adopt many things Jewish (or, as my many examples were, anything other than Jesus). And usually there is an air of superiority about them in that adoption, which cannot be pleasing to our Lord. I am convinced He is no more pleased with them for becoming more Jewish in their lives than He is in me in the life I now live in Him. The point I was trying to make, though obviously failing in my endeavors, is that when we choose to conform to any image other than that of Christ, we move into the area of Self (and the carnal mind) which is at enmity with God.

    Jesus did not say follow me because I am Jewish; He said follow me because I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. I do not want a substitute. Nowhere does He ever even hint at following Judaism as being part of the road to salvation. In fact, the rest of scriptures blatantly rejects that notion. So why would any believer desire to embrace it?

  7. annie Says:

    Charlotte–

    Thanks for the reply and the clarification. I appreciate your gentleness. I do still disagree with you on the church replacing Israel. My own view (and this is not to start a debate on the subject, but just to state it) is that both covenants are 100% valid. And like yourself, all the ins and outs of what that means in the mind of God, and how He is (and will) deal with them is not much of my business, and I don’t worry about it. There are many Scriptures which back up this thought, but the greatest ones are firstly the overwhelming number of times that God told Israel that He made an “everlasting covenant” with them. I do not believe God uses words lightly, and so I take Him at His word. Secondly, Jesus Himself (the author and finisher of our faith) said, “Do not think I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” I do not in any way think that their covenant was abolished or replaced. Again, just to restate, I am not attempting to get into a theological debate on this subject, but I thought it might be good to state my own views.

    Your second paragraph is interesting. I wonder if you have read Romans 14.

    1Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

    2One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

    3The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.

    4Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

    5One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

    6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.

    7For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;

    8for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

    9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

    10But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

    11For it is written,
    “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
    AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

    12So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

    13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

    14I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

    15For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

    16Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;

    17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    18For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

    19So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

    20Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.

    21It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.

    22The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

    23But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

    Have you read that before? I was rather astounded when I read it a few months ago.

    I personally think that we as Americans tend to regard the issues that Paul talked about in this passage as sort-of things that “those people” dealt with. But we have to understand that the people (Romans–gentiles) that Paul is talking to really were hanging huge tenants of faith on these things, and they were judging each other by their own opinions. This inherent conflict was actually between Gentile believers and Jewish believers. Similar to what we are talking about here, in some respects. He mentions the issue of “observing the day.” What day was he talking about? The Sabbath. Apparently they had the exact same conflicts back then about what day of the week was “proper” to worship the Lord on. I want to point out that Paul does not say that either day is more proper over the other. Only that whatever you do, to be fully convinced that that is what God has for you. This is the crux of what he is trying to say on this issue, and not only did he apply it to many arenas, we can too.

    Paul has some pretty hard-hitting and remarkable things to say, I think. He makes a very clear case of saying that neither side ought to hold the other in contempt for their opinion. Now, in this case, it is possible that the “other camp” holds us in contempt for our opinion. But that is not in our power to control or judge. “To his own master he stands or falls.” It is only in our hands to hold our own opinions and to be fully convinced in them.

    “I know and am convinced in the Lord that nothing is unclean in itself.” That is a HUGE statement today, as I’m sure it was then. The repercussions of that statement are enormous.

    Then this statement: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil.” If you are instructed to do this, would they not also?

    Perhaps you are feeling that they do hold your opinions in contempt, and that is why you feel the sting. I don’t know. But like I said, we are never in a position to control what someone else does; only what we do.

    Again, thank you for your kindness and sincerity, Charlotte. Those aren’t small things to me.

  8. Charlotte Says:

    Thank you, Annie, for your thoughts as well, and the gentleness you also use. We can agree that I, too, believe in 100% covental faithfulness of our Lord. Both covenants. And it is definitely His problem, not mine, in pulling it off. 🙂

    And I am very familiar with Romans 14. One of my very favorite chapters in scriptures. Completely in agreement with what you are saying, but you have missed my point entirely. My point is not about judging anyone’s decision; rather it is to say that I see scripture indicating that ANY identity (life) we take other than JUST being His child, is letting Self rule rather than die. And that we are missing out. He told us to lay down our lives. This is what I think He is meaning.

    We tell others: “Get a life.” Jesus says “Lose your life,.”

    BTW, it’s good to see you back in Dale’s blog. I’ve missed your comments.

  9. annie Says:

    One of your favorite chapters! That’s so neat. I think it’s lost on a lot of believers in general.

    Thanks for the clarification of your position, I appreciate it.
    And thank you for the kind words! It’s nice to feel like I actually have energy to blog. 🙂

  10. darla Says:

    well..after reading this whole thread…i got nuthin! Great to see some life in Blogland!

  11. Charlotte Says:

    Darla, seeing your comment in context, I think I misunderstood you. 🙂

    Duh. I am so glad you are a forgiving and patient person!

  12. darla Says:

    Charlotte… love you 😆


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