Replacement Theology – Merely A Comedy?
Robert Louis Stevenson was a poet and novelist, not a theologian. But it is reported that before he himself could read, his nursemaid read him the Bible aloud, from start to finish, three times. He had this to say:
“I cannot understand how you theologians and preachers can apply to the Church… …Scripture promises which, in their plain meaning, must apply to God’s chosen people Israel, and to Palestine; and which, consequently, must still be future.”
He went on to say that the prophecies, when they are spiritualized by replacement theologians, “become farcical—as applied to the Church, they are a comedy.”
How we wish replacement theology’s distortion of Scripture were only a comedy. Ideas have consequences and, for the Jewish people, Christian ideas have sometimes had lethal consequences.
In recent decades evangelical Christians have often been staunch supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. Why? Because, like Robert Louis Stevenson, they have had the audacity to believe that the biblical text really does intend to convey the meaning contained in its words – the meaning that would have been apparent to its original recipients. In addition, they have rejected the revisionist version of Middle East history and the moral inversion that attempts to paint a victim as an aggressor.
But, things are changing.
Increasingly, evangelical supporters of Israel (or “biblical Zionists”), are being told that their affirmation of the biblical promises to Israel is a heresy or a sin. And like any lie that is told often enough, the revised historical narrative is beginning to take hold.
And so the nation recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures as uniquely chosen by God to be a blessing to the world (and confirmed as such in the New Testament) has become a source of great controversy among evangelicals.
But does Israel’s status really matter? We think so. Of all the statements in Scripture attributed to the one true God, none are more emphatic than His promises to His Jewish people – and many of those statements concern the land of Israel (either explicitly or by necessary implication).
If the documents we call the Bible, and the God of which it speaks, are to be taken seriously, then the status of Israel and the Jewish people is of utmost importance. In fact, if words mean anything, the integrity and veracity of the God of Scripture depends on His faithfulness to the Jewish people and His determination to restore them to Himself and to their ancient homeland.
Of course, replacement theologians find ways by which they believe they can negate the plain meaning of the biblical text. While they cannot agree among themselves just how best to avoid the obvious meaning of the text, on one thing they can agree: the text can not mean what it says.
Replacement theologians have recently begun to object to the term replacement. Instead they insist that their theology is one of fulfillment, completion, extension or realization.
Their objection is entirely understandable.
One who steals his neighbour’s property, when caught, may prefer to describe his activity as “nocturnal asset relocation”. Nonetheless, he really is a thief and his activity is a crime. Replacement theologians engage in theological identity theft and no amount of creative rebranding will legitimize their actions.
by Perry Trotter
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