“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).