REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY – ISRAEL AND HER ENEMIES
(For Zion’s Sake Ministries)
Over the past 2,000 years, among all the various theological errors that have crept into the Christian church, there is no question that replacement theology is one of the most widespread and, I would argue, perverse and vile. Replacement theology essentially holds that because (most) Jews rejected Jesus (Yahshua) as their Messiah, they were thus judged by God in 70 A.D., when their nation and Temple were destroyed. Since that time, replacement theologians argue, God has now replaced Israel with the church, transferring all of his previous promises and purposes from the Jewish people and nation to the entity known as the Christian church.
The fruit of this belief system has been glaringly evident throughout church history. As demonstrated in the book, “Our Hands are Stained With Blood,” by Dr. Michael Brown, replacement theology was among the primary theological and ideological foundations of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of roughly 150,000 Jews from Spain in 1492, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the crusades and, ultimately, the Holocaust.
But replacement theology is not only problematic because of the negative fruit it produces, but also because of the interpretive violence it inflicts onto hundreds of very clear biblical passages. Replacement theology looks to the blessings found throughout the Old Testament promised to Israel and “spiritually” applies them to the church. An open letter issued by Knox Theological Seminary in 2002, entitled, “The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel,” states, “The church of Jesus Christ, [is] the true Israel.” However, when replacement theologians read of any judgment against Israel in the Old Testament, they continue to apply these passages literally to Israel. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Replacement theology denies any future where Jesus will rule the earth from Zion. As the statement words it, “Furthermore, a day should not be anticipated in which Christ’s kingdom will manifest Jewish distinctives, whether by its location in ‘the land,’ by its constituency, or by its ceremonial institutions and practices.”
When conservative Premillennialists look at the hermeneutical violence inflicted on hundreds of passages committed by these replacement theologians, we shudder to imagine how anyone could so radically reinterpret the Bible, often to mean the exact opposite of what it actually says. When they read “Israel” they spiritualize and universalize the term to mean “church.” When they read “Zion” or “Jerusalem,” they allegorize and universalize it to mean the “invisible Kingdom of God.” Virtually everything is reinterpreted into some vague, spiritualized, allegorized or universalized reality.