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Replacement Theology is a heresy and the number one enemy to the pursuit of understanding our Jewish roots. What is it? Simply, it is the belief that the Gentile church has replaced Israel and the Jews in the promises and prophecies of the scriptures. It's premise is that God is finished with Israel and the Church has taken her place in the interpretation of scripture. We can see it's influence in music, in our liturgies and even in the celebration of our holy days.

Replacement theology is not just intellectual theory....it produces persecution for Israel as well. This thinking is behind the shameful attempts of Christianity to purge the earth of the Jewish people in such historical events as the Crusades and the Holocaust. Although not directly responsible for the holocaust, the Church's latent anti-Semitism prevented the church from opposing Hitler's terrible plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Except for small pockets of believers, the church remained silent in the face of the genocide.

As we study and discover the roots of our faith, the questions that come up often have to do with changes the Church has made that diverge current practices from what was established in the Torah. This can often be attributed to the influence of Replacement Theology. This thread is to question, identify and discuss those things and bring them to awareness.

To get us started, here is a comment Dave made on another thread:
<QUOTE author="Dave">
Dave Wrote:The church has either changed the Jewish festivals beyond recognition, or has just ignored them completely. This, in my view, is a subtle form of replacement theology. It says that the practices and traditions of the church are superior to and have superceded those of Israel, which carries the implication that the church has superceded Israel...

...So, in order to fully exorcise the ghost of those anti-semitic early church figures who banned believers from anything Jewish (and whose influence continues today), the church is going to have to significantly change its ways. To say "your people shall be my people" is meaningless unless you say "your festivals shall be my festivals".
Also shows a sad parallel in our history to that of another monotheistic religion that is currently heavily in the news. Yes, those were sad days in the history of Christianity when the edict was confess Christ or suffer consequence.

Some things have changed, others have not. There are whole sectors of our own belief system that have determined (finally) that we are not to be the executors of "justice" or "judgment", but many still seem to want to be judge and jury. Sad

Helena & I have chosen to be very careful about how we present our faith and very careful about the expected results. If one studies the Celtic philosophy of evangelism, I think one would find a great deal of what Father brought us to independently. Earn the privilege of speaking to someone about your faith. Privilege, not right. Then share out of your experience, not out of some book/system on evangelism or even the Bible. If you demonstrate your love, it will be noticed. If it's noticed, people will ask. Then they can make their own conclusions and choices. That's what free will is about, IMHO. Violating that free will puts us in a position of playing God and we don't want to do that. Again, IMHO.

We've seen it work time and again. When the Jews are invited to an event that concerns Israel, and that event is hosted by Christians, they usually are leary of attending because of probable evangelistic messages. We've been at a number of events where that sort of message was deliberately avoided. One of my favorite examples was one where the head of one of the Jewish organizations present approached someone who was trusted by that leader to ask, "What's different about this group? They did not mention...'him'...once!" The hosts were more concerned that God has plan for Israel than pushing Jesus down the throats of the Jews. God knows His plans far better than we do. That host began the journey of trust with those Jews who also had a great concern about Israel's future.
Replacement Theology and anti-Semitism go hand in hand. It is based in pride (we are better than the Jews, after all, because they rejected the Messiah...) and in ignorance of the scriptures that tell us that God will always be faithful in his promises to Israel.

One of the things that becomes apparent when awakened to the reality of our "grafted-innedness" is that we must repent of these wrong beliefs, our anti-Semitism (whether conscious or just assimilated through osmosis) and of our ignorance. That place of humility then becomes a place of revelation for the Lord to bring us to truth about all these things.

The lies of replacement theology:

The lie: God has rejected Israel, because the Jews killed Yeshua.

The truth:Many Jews have become believers in Yeshua (see Acts 21:20) and Israel's rejection of the Messiah was part of God's plan for the spreading of the Gospel. Yeshua died of his own volition for the sins of all mankind, not because a certain people interfered with the plan and killed him.

The lie: The Church has replaced Israel in the prophecies and the promises of God.

The truth: The church is grafted in to Israel's olive tree. A tree that was already there. Not a new tree that was put in a hole where the old one had been dug up and discarded. Nowhere in the scripture can one support the position that God is finished with Israel and has replaced her with the Church. The Church is the Bride of Messiah, but Israel is the wife of God.

The lie: The The Holocaust was God's punishment on the Jewish people.

The truth: The enemy knows that if he can postpone Jewish revival, the Day of the Lord will also be postponed. This is the power and impetus behind the intellectually irrational efforts to wipe out the Jewish people---from Haman to Hitler, and now radical Islam.

The lie: The Jews will only experience revival after the Rapture, therefore it is pointless to minister them in any way.

The truth: God has never stopped trying to draw the hearts of his people. He wants revival for Israel, not wrath and judgement. He does not intend for them to be assimilated into the Gentile church and out of their Jewishness either. God's plans and punishments for Israel never entailed a loss of their Hebraic identity.

The lie: The Jews are going to hell.

The truth: We can never know the complete end of the heart of any man. Who is to say what happens between man and his Creator as he passes from life to death? In Romans, we are told that some who never hear the Gospel, but have a seeking heart, know God because he has spoken to them through His creation. Can he not deal with the Jewish people who earnestly seek him in the same way? To think otherwise is an arrogant position.

The stages of Anti-Semitism in history:<LIST>
  • <LI>
  • The Council of Nicea. It was declared that you could not be in the Church and live a Jewish lifestyle. It was at this point that Christianity became completely severed from it's Jewish roots.</LI>
  • The Inquisition and the Reformation took the postion that you can not live among the Church if you lived a Jewish lifestyle.</LI>
  • Nazi Germany (and now radical Islam) say that you cannot live at all if you are a Jew.</LI>
</LIST>This is a very good article giving background, scripture and argument against replacement theology for anyone who wants to explore this in greater depth than presented in this topic.

Why Replacement Theology is wrong by Kevin S. Johnson, Institute for Christian Apologetics.

<URL url="http://www.contender.org/articles/repisrl.htm">http://www.contender.org/articles/repisrl.htm
Dave brought up the point that the church taking over or changing the feasts is a form of replacement theology

Another very contemporary example is the support of the Palestinian cause. If we support the Palestinians, we are saying that God did not give every inch of Israel to the Jews.

Perhaps others instances come to mind as you think about how insidiously this false belief system has entwined itself in the church and in our culture.
It's interesting to think about replacement theology in relation to hermeneutics - methods of biblical interpretation.

The main techniques adopted by evangelicals are:<LIST>
  • <LI>
  • The primary meaning of a text is what it would have meant to the people to whom it was written.</LI>
  • Passages should be understood literally unless the context indicates otherwise.</LI>
  • Interpretations should not contradict other parts of the Bible.</LI>
</LIST>Replacement theology deviates from all this. It takes a non-literal approach and spiritualises or allegorises (something evangelicals normally condemn strongly as being the practice of liberals) certain passages about Israel and interprets them in a manner that is inconsistent with the rest of the bible.

It also takes a selective approach - although the promises are claimed by the church, keeping the festivals (including shabbat) is explained away and ignored, and, of course, the curses for disobeying God are left with Israel.

I don't think replacement theology is explicitly taught as such - I suspect it's just a sort of poison that has contaminated a lot of christian thought. In my experience, many people who've been exposed to it in their studies and have taken it on board don't actually realise the full significance of it. So they need to be lovingly put back on the right course, not shouted down in flames.
You're right, Dave. Sneaky poison sort of stuff, but there are also residuals!

There is a very popular teacher in the US (probably internationally, too) by the name of Malcolm. During a speaking engagement at a church we were part of, Malcolm was teaching about how the church had taken the place of Israel. Looked right at a man who was highly interested in Israel. If memory serves, he actually had some Jewish genes in his body. Malcolm essentially looked around the room and asked if there were any Jews in the room. Oops!

Long story short, that teaching was recorded. I don't have a copy, but I know that it was converted to CD when CDs became popular and had already been widely distributed within that congregation on tape. Add to that, it was just part of his current teaching series that was recorded and sold at every stop on that speaking tour.

When Malcolm later repented of his replacement theology ways, he quit teaching that the church is the replacement for Israel. HOWEVER!!!!!! No one recalled his tapes or the books based on that teaching. Those will live on until the paper rots and the iron oxide falls off the mylar! Not any time soon, sadly. That particular batch of poison has a very long shelf life!

What's that little children's church song? "Be careful little mouth what you say..."?
There's a term I sometimes use - "downstream pollution". I'm sure you get the idea.

We need to be very careful about what we say (on any topic), especially if we are in a position of leadership. And if we do subsequently change our views on something, we should have the humility to say so to prevent the sort of situation you describe. I don't think you can exactly "recall" tapes and books in the same way that you might recall a defective consumer product, but you can at least publicly announce that you no longer hold those views. I suppose you could offer a free exchange for an updated teaching.

Unfortunately, the idea of changing your mind doesn't fit very well with the evangelical/fundamentalist mindset and you'll rarely encounter it in the real world. Or people do change their views over time, but just don't admit to it. I think there's a bit of pride in there.

I think one of the reasons why there is a lot of replacement theology around is that pastors have received it in their bible college training and unknowingly pass it on to their congregations. Whilst it's probably not unreasonable to say that most people forget 95+% of a sermon within a matter of minutes, often little catchphrases like "new israel" stick in the mind, especially if they come up every few weeks.

James 3 is quite a relevant passage to all this.
Just ran across a nifty quote from Paul Wilbur from an interview with Integrity Music:
<QUOTE author="Paul Wilbur">
Paul Wilbur Wrote:In Ephesians 2, God says he makes out of the Jew and Gentile one new man.  Israel has always been made up of Jews and Gentiles. I don’t believe that world redemption happens without this divine connection.  The Church needs Israel; Israel needs the Church.
That about says it, yes?

Even MODERN geo-political Israel is composed of an amalgam of Jews, Hebrews, and Gentiles. Heck Arabs, Asians, Europeans, and more make up that Gentile portion!