Friday, January 25, 2013

Is Replacement Theology True Christianity?

Dear Friends,
The church is being polarized by a number of events. The most significant of which is our position as Christians FOR or AGAINST the Biblical support of Israel and the Jewish people. One of the most dangerous elements sneaking into the church is the doctrine of "Replacement Theology". In other words, the belief by some people that God is somehow through with Israel,

and the Church is Israel's replacement.

NOTHING could be further from the Truth.
Please join me in reading an article by one of our staff members, Ed Benjamin. This may just be the clearest explanation of this ungodly doctrine

that I have EVER read.

God bless,
Pastor Rance

"Is Replacement Theology True Christianity?"


As I prepare to go to Israel for a ten day tour, I have been reflecting on the fact that Israel exists. It is a miracle that the Jewish people have survived. What other people still exists after being scattered all over the world for thousands of years. The continued existence of the Jewish people in spite of numerous persecutions and threats and attempts at genocide throughout Jewish history is evidence of Divine intervention. Despite being stripped of their home and scattered to the four corners of the earth; despite repeated attempts at forced conversions and their own attempts of assimilation, the Jews have survived as a distinct nation. No other ethnic group in the history of mankind has been dispersed, faced such odds and yet endured. What explains this apparent invincibility? The God of Israel has preserved them in His grace because He loves them. In Zechariah 2:8 God proclaims that the Jewish people are “the apple of His eye,” and He warns against anyone trying to harm them. In the words of Malachi: I the Lord do not change. So you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. – Malachi 3:6

The rebirth of the Nation of Israel is a miracle. The restoration of the Hebrew language is a miracle. The return of the Jewish people to their homeland is a miracle and so is the reunification of Jerusalem, but they have been God’s plan all along. Israel is a nation that was born out of a promise of God. One very unique thing about Israel is that it is the only nation whose history, current situation, and future have already been written. Israel is the only nation whose story has already been told from beginning to end.

However, there are some in the Church who want to change that story. They claim that Israel has been rejected by God as a nation. Their contention is that Israel is a failure beyond salvage, and that God has now made for Himself a “new Israel,” the Church. Where do these Ideas come from? They stem from a system of belief known as Replacement Theology.

This is not a new doctrine. It has been around for a long time and has become imbedded in churches of many denominations and traditions. The roots of Replacement Theology and its fruit of anti-Semitism go back to the very beginning of Christianity. This is ironic when you consider the fact that the Church began as a Jewish institution. It was founded in Judea by Jews who were followers of a Jewish Messiah, and its founding documents were written by Jews.

Originally, the Christian faith had a much more Jewish flavor. In the first century AD, the Church was well connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17 He says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Before the first Jewish revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. However, as the Jewish leadership died and was replaced by the Gentile leaders, the Jewish flavor began to fade away. As the Church began to spread beyond Judea throughout the Roman Empire, and its message was embraced by more and more Gentiles who had no interest in maintaining contact with the Jewish roots of the Church, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish of Hebraic mindset. This resulted in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today. Even worse, the new Gentile leaders began to turn against the Jews by characterizing them as “Christ killers.”

Consider the following examples:

Ignatius of Antioch (50-117 CE) – Taught that those who partake of the Passover are partakers with those who killed Jesus. (Not considering the fact that Jesus celebrated Passover)

Justin Martyr (100-165 CE) – Claimed God’s covenant with Israel was no longer valid and that the Gentiles had replaced the Jews.

Irenaeus (130-202 CE) – Declared the Jews were disinherited from the grace of God.

Tertullian (155-230 CE) – Blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus and argued they had been rejected by God.

Origen (185-254 CE) – He was responsible for much anti-Semitism, all of which was based on his assertion that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus.

Eusebius (275-339 CE) – Wrote an influential history of the Church and taught that the promises of scripture were for the Gentiles while the curses were for the Jews, and that the Church was the “true Israel.”

John Chrysostom (344-407 CE) – Preached that there could never be forgiveness for the Jews, it was the Christian’s duty to hate Jews and that the Jews worshipped the Devil.

Jerome (347-407 CE) - Produced the Latin translation of the Bible which became the official Bible. He said, “Jews are incapable of understanding scripture and should be severely punished until they confess the true faith.” The authors of the scriptures believed that the Jewish Messiah would literally establish a kingdom on earth which would bless the Gentiles too, but this was rejected in favor of a non literal, allegorical “replacement theology.” He described the Jews as “…serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys.

Augustine (354-430 CE) – Turned the literal into spiritual – “The kingdom is only spiritual, is now, and is in men’s hearts. The millennium is now and Satan is bound.” He wrote that the Jews deserved death but were destined to wander the earth to witness the victory of the Church over the Synagogue. The Catholic Church has recently refuted this view but it is still around.

Constantine – In 312 CE the Roman emperor Constantine accepted the Christian faith, or at least his version of the Christian faith. While preparing for another military campaign he claimed to have had a vision of the cross against the sun, accompanied by the words, “In this sign, conquer.” He made Christianity the state religion and it began to be corrupted by man centered thinking and Greek philosophy, taking control away from God and enforcing “Christian” faith by earthly methods. He called the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, which fixed the dates of holy days by the secular, pagan calendar rather than the Jewish calendar. The celebration of Jesus’ death became Good Friday instead of Passover and His resurrection became Easter (the feast of the pagan deity Ishtar) instead of First Fruits. (Did you ever wonder how you get three days and three nights from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning? I have! But that’s another article, maybe.) This detached the events in Jesus; ministry from their prophetic Jewish context, depriving us of so much deep insight into God and His designs. The Romans had many gods, the highest of which was the sun which was worshiped on Sunday and its birth was celebrated on December 25th. In 440 CE, the Church adopted this date to celebrate Jesus’ birth instead of the most probable time which was during Tabernacles. It is my opinion that this also had something to do with changing Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. The state Church enforced anti-Semitism and Jews accepting their messiah had to renounce all Jewishness and become Gentile Christians. It is interesting to note that the Church grew faster before it became “Establishment” under Constantine than it ever has since! This is in spite of the fact that there are no records of evangelistic campaigns or crusades (poor choice of words) as we trust in nowadays.

The Council of Elvira (305 CE in Spain) – Prohibited Christians form sharing a meal with a Jew, marrying a Jew, blessing a Jew or observing the Sabbath.

The Council of Nicea (325 CE in Turkey) – Changed the celebration of the Resurrection from the Jewish Feast of First Fruits to Easter in an attempt to disassociate it from Jewish feasts. The Council stated: “For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people…”

This anti-Semitism, which took root in the early Church, has continued throughout Church history and is seen in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation and the teachings of Martin Luther, Russian Pogroms, and the Holocaust of the Nazis.

One outcome of Church history was Replacement Theology. Put very briefly, Replacement Theology holds that God rejected the Jews (Israel) when they rejected Jesus. (Actually thousands of Jews soon accepted Jesus, but it was their religious leaders who rejected Him.) From this it follows that the promises throughout the Bible now apply to the Church while the curses apply to Israel – the Jews. This is spiritualized in various ways but it is surprising how deeply entrenched it is in some denominations and the writings of well known Christian scholars. Its influences can even be detected in some well respected Bible translations and their section headings. Consider this, God made many promises to His chosen, covenant people in the Old Testament. We Christians trust in the promises He made us in the New Testament and those we appropriate from the Old Testament. If God can break His eternal promises to His first covenant people we do not have much assurance for the new covenant. But praise God, glory be unto Him, “…God’s free gifts and His calling are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

Because of a tragic misinterpretation of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish people were viewed with contempt and all throughout the early church, and even into more recent times, the bible has often been interpreted in the light of this contempt. For centuries, the Jewish people have been cast as the villains of the New Testament. This can be seen in many books, works of art, and in the movies depicting the life of Christ. Jesus is rarely portrayed as Jewish in art or film. He is portrayed as an antagonist to Judaism; the Jewishness of His life is almost completely eliminated in any depiction of Him.

Replacement Theology has done nothing but bring much pain and suffering to the Jewish people. It was born of an arrogant, irrational hatred of the Jewish people. It holds them forever responsible for a sin they did not commit, namely the death of Jesus. THE JEWISH PEOPLE DID NOT KILL JESUS! Jesus said in John 10:18, that no one took His life from Him. He said it was His to lie down and that He would take it up again under His own power. Jesus made it clear that He came to earth to give His life as a ransom for all mankind to bring salvation to the world (Matthew 20:28). Jesus’ death was not a murder or execution. Jesus was in full control of His life the entire time He walked this earth. Jesus’ goal was the cross. No one had the power to take His life; not the Sanhedrin, not Pilate, not even Caesar himself. Jesus died at the exact moment He planned to die, and not a minute too soon, nor a minute too late. Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice that He gave out of His love for each one of us. To blame anyone else for Jesus’ death is to insult the grace of God. It amounts to robbing Him of the glory He is due, by claiming that Jesus’ death was a product of a human agenda, and not the product of God’ love and mercy.

God tells us that His covenant which gives Israel – the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the land of promise, will last forever. 

He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.” – Psalm 105:7-11

What part of everlasting do Replacement Theology people not understand? God could not have made Himself any clearer. The Hebrew word for everlasting means everlasting. If you have a desire to build a relationship with people in the Jewish community, you must understand Replacement Theology and the impact it has had on the Church and Jewish people who have lived with a 2,000 year legacy of anti-Semitism in the name of Christ. This is what they know. Jewish people need to know there is more than one type of Christian and that there are Christians today who do not believe that God is finished with the Jewish people. He will restore them and make them a glorious nation for His name’s sake because He loves them and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

A perversion of Christianity through Replacement Theology has been the source of most anti-Semitism in the Western world. Throughout northern Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, anti-Semitism has been promoted by Islam. The Qur’an calls Jews “the children of monkeys and pigs.” However, there are anti-Semites in this world who are neither Christian nor Muslim and who have never met a Jew. Why is anti-Semitism so widespread, so persistent, so virulent, and so irrational? It is because it is fundamentally a spiritual phenomenon. Satan hates the Jews because God provided both the Bible and the Messiah through them. He hates them because God called them His Chosen People. He hates them because God has promised to save a great remnant of them. He hates them because God loves them. The result is that he works overtime to plant seeds of hatred in people’s hearts toward the Jews. He is determined to destroy the Jews so that God cannot keep His promise to save a great remnant of them. He tried and failed to annihilate them in the Holocaust. He is trying and will fail to annihilate them through Muslim terrorists. He will try to destroy them once again during the last half of the Tribulation. Of course, He will fail once again. However, GOD IS IN CONTROL, not satan. God has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of satan and mankind to the triumph of His perfect will in history. The Jews be preserved and a great remnant will be saved. All the promises to the Jewish people will be fulfilled. When will this occur? It will occur at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus returns to Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant cry out, “Baruch Haba Bashem Adonai!” Which means, 

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:39)

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I entirely agree with your rejection of replacement theology, I am frustrated by your quotes from the Fathers; it is extremely unwise to quote anybody - even Jesus - without offering the context of their remarks, and this is especially the case with those early theologians who often balance their remarks. Your quote from 'Nicaea' is especially problematic, given that it's not in the actual council decrees, but only the material about Easter recorded by Eusebius. For a good discussion of the issue see: