Facing Replacement Theology (Part 1)


Have the blessings God promised to the Chosen People of Israel been redirected to all believers in the church? Will the church receive the prophetic future God promised the Jewish people repeatedly throughout the Old Testament?

People who answer yes to these questions hold to a position referred to as Replacement Theology, or Supersessionism.1 This influence is growing today; and it’s important to ask, “What should we who love Israel—and God’s future plan for Israel—do about it?”

Many churches today appear less focused on the elements of Dispensational Theology, which is rooted in understanding “the distinction between Israel and the church,”2 based on literal, biblical interpretation. In contrast, Supersessionism uses allegorical, rather than literal, interpretation when dealing with Israel’s future.

Is it possible to get a pulse on what is actually happening in our Christian circles?

For answers, we turned to four experienced Christian leaders who are highly qualified to address these questions from the historical, theological, global, and practical perspectives.

From the Front Lines

Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Jr., president of Prophecy Today, is a prophecy teacher and Middle East expert. He provides content as a radio host through Prophecy Today Weekend and Prophecy Today Daily—”examining current events in the light of God’s prophetic Word” and carrying on the work of his late father, Jimmy DeYoung.

He reaches people on more than 400 radio stations weekly, along with operating prophecytoday.com’s Internet radio livestream. In those roles, including conducting prophecy conferences, he interacts with many types of people. “I think the biggest indication is, over the years, churches are changing,” DeYoung stated.

“There are a lot of inquiries that come to the program. There are people who listen who don’t understand why we focus on the Jewish people so much. People need an explanation—why is this important to us? I think you are seeing that more and more.

“That may mean we need to alter some of our methods—and take a step back in order to better serve some listeners. It really gets back to teaching basic theology,” DeYoung said.

But there are still great opportunities for solid Bible teaching. “We’re picking up stations,” he observed. “We stay consistent with what we teach.”

A Seismic Shift in the Seminaries

“I think what we’re seeing more of is, within our theological realm, that people are intimidated,” said Dr. Charles Dyer, professor-at-large of Bible for Moody Bible Institute and host of The Land and the Book on Moody Radio.

“They want to be accepted as scholars; and the basic thing is, ‘Well, you cannot take the Bible literally, or you’re not scholarly.’ Now you have the foundation for Replacement Theology,” Dyer said.

Dr. James Fazio is dean of Bible and Theology and professor of Biblical Studies at Southern California Seminary. He is also finishing a doctorate in history at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in which his focus is on John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century Plymouth Brethren leader who is considered the father of modern Dispensationalism.

Fazio sees Replacement Theology’s growing popularity as much more of a seismic shift than a simple growth spurt. “Dispensationalists,” he said, “have always claimed the majority position based on the grass-roots following—the church following. Dispensational Theology was very accessible. It was popular. That script has flipped. What was going on in the academy yesterday is what is bearing out in the church today.”

Fazio noted that, for many years, the influence of Reformed Theology has been growing in seminaries and in Christian publishing and “has now trickled down, and it is sweeping across the churches.” He sees this as a marked change from the middle of the past century. Many dispensational schools were still flourishing then—but the last of the preachers trained in that time are now concluding their ministries.

“I think [Replacement Theology] is growing because of what’s coming out of seminaries,” Dyer stated. “Those who are graduating know very little of the Bible. They grew up in churches that didn’t teach the Bible. Sadly, what I’m seeing in churches is the Bible is being taught less and less.”

Fazio also sees a parallel between the leftward movement in our culture and movement away from the literal interpretation of Scripture.

“Today, Dispensationalism—that dreaded word and the stigma attached to it—is very much like capitalism. That word is anathema to most people—even if we need it and rely upon it for how we function as a society. That shows the power of the cultural sway. The movement that is sweeping across the churches is absolutely Reformed, amillennial—and it has displaced premillennial Dispensationalism.

“If we think that we can just get in churches and have sort of a popularist movement, we don’t have the next generation. We have a fleeting moment,” Fazio said.

Reposted from the January/February 2023 issue of Israel My Glory. Used by permission of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.


1 For a fuller treatment on Replacement Theology, see Paul Scharf, “The Danger of Replacing Israel” (three-part blog), foi.org/2021/09/24/the-danger-of-replacing-israel-part-1.

2 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, rev. ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007), 48.

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


First, to clear the air, I do not support Replacement Theology. With that said, most Reformed would not call it Replacement Theology, but Fullfillment Theology. It is Dispensationalist that have attached this term to the Reformed movement. Most of them would eschew the term “Replacement”. I think it would be well argued to say that Reformed Theologians “know very little of the Bible”, or that students graduating from solid seminaries “know very little of the Bible”. The graduates that I have come across are very serious about Scripture and are well taught.

I'm curious what evidence you have for this statement: "It is Dispensationalist that have attached this term to the Reformed movement." I've seen Mike Vlach and Paul Henebury produce numerous quotations from Reformed scholars who used the term and positively so. Am I to conclude that they adopted it from dispensational critiques?

Of course, the term doesn't matter. As Paul notes above, it may also be called "supercessionism," the resulting doctrine is the same.

Here is another post https://heidelblog.net/2013/08/covenant-theology-is-not-replacement-theology/

A lot of Reformed don’t like the term replacement, because they don’t view any replacement taking place. They view that as a Dispensational view laying itself on top of Covenant. They view it as a single covenant and a single people. Not that Israel is thrown to the side and replaced by the church. I don’t consider myself Reformed but I was in the circle for over a decade. And why I sometimes comment against things that are expressed here, because regardless of quotes chosen, I don’t think they reflect Reformed or Covenant Theology. At least not what I heard preached from the pulpit in different ministries.

Yes, I'm well aware that men like Duncan and Clark want to distance themselves from the term. But they need to educate themselves about the origin of the term "replacement theology" in Reformed writers before lecturing dispensationalists about using it.

Whether you term it fulfillment or replacement, the fact remains that Reformed covenantalism tends to apply the OT promises made to Israel to the NT church. We can discuss the hermeneutics behind that and decide if it is valid or no, but it most certainly is what they teach.

I wasn't able to read Paul Henebury's entire article, but reading half way through it and perusing the rest, does nothing to highlight that Reformed Theologians embraced replacement theology as a terminology that represents the Reformed view. Instead he highlights what Replacement Theology means and then ties what some Reformed writers have written to what he highlights as Replacement Theology. He mentions the Westminister Confession, that clearly does not articulate Replacement Theology, but views the nation of Israel and the Church as a single entity tied under a single covenant. Since the Westminister is the root of the reformed confessions, it should be indicative of what the movement as a whole (and not individuals) believe. There are probably certainly individuals who may have used the term Replacement, but I have not ran across a Reformed person today that would say that Israel has been cast aside and been replaced, but they view them under the same Covenant of Grace. Salvation is not tied to a national heritage or bloodline, but tied to God's grace through faith. Again, I am not defending one side or the other. Just trying to balance out what I have seen.

I'm still looking for evidence of this statement: "It is Dispensationalist that have attached this term to the Reformed movement." Vlach and Henebury both demonstrate that it is a term accepted by at least some in the Reformed community. But there's no evidence I'm aware of that the dispensational cabal managed to trick them into using a pejorative in their own writings.

I didn't see it in Henebury's writing that you posted. It just laid out definitions of Replacement Theology and then examples of where they found those elements in the writings of Reformed authors. I was a member, for many years, in a Reformed Baptist Church that was a member of the Southeast Association of Confessional Baptist Churches, and I never heard the term mentioned. I never heard it in the conferences I went to that were Reformed. Instead the focus was on fulfillment theology which does align with the Westerminister Confession and the London Baptist Confession of faith,

"The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that fills all in all."

The view I was always taught in the Reformed circles was that Israel was not cast aside and replaced, but that Israel and the Church are under a single Covenant of Grace and that the elect in times past, today and in times future are one single entity under Christ. There is no replacement because there is no change from Genesis 1 to the end of Revelation. Dispensationalist view them as two distinct entities and therefore when looking at Reformed people within a Dispensational Model the church would have to replace Israel.

I gave you posts by Heidelblog, Reformed Theological Society, and here are some more. I could go on and on and on. The fact is that you will most likely not find anyone today in the Reformed circles who use Replacement Theology or even embrace that terminology. You can see on the Puritanboard link that most in the Reformed circles view it as a label that Dispensationalist have put on them. I am assuming that Paul Henebury has not been a member in a Reformed or Covenant Theology congregation for many years, nor has he been deeply entrenched in their conferences or amongst their leaders. Maybe, he has. I personally in my 10 years in the movement never ever heard it called that and only viewed as a Dispensational derogatory term. I am not defending Reformed or their view, just providing a perspective from someone who has been on that side. I am not a member in a Reformed church today.




Replacement theology may not be a term chosen by those who hold the position to represent themselves—but it does accurately describe the position. That is why I use it without apology.

"There is no replacement because there is no change from Genesis 1 to the end of Revelation."

Since the church did not exist in the OT, and since Israel has been in her dispersion since at least A.D. 70, the above is a fancy way of saying ... the church has replaced Israel.

I mean no ill will against my Reformed/Amillennial/etc. brethren. I have benefited much from their work. As has often been noted, we read their stuff, but they rarely read ours. The most you often get is a less-than-flattering reference to Left Behind or The Late Great Planet Earth.

So, I invite them to read and interact with the substance. In the meantime, I will use the term Replacement Theology.

And thank all of you for reading, as well!

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

While Henebury does not spend much time reproducing Reformed writers' use of the term, he does quote Herman Bavinck:

"The community of believers has in all
respects replaced carnal, national

Is he borrowing language from the dispensationalists?

Again, I am not surprised that most Reformed folk today will disavow the term, but I'm objecting to the unproven accusation that it was foisted upon them by those dastardly dispensationalists.

For several more examples of Reformed scholars explicitly using replacement terminology, see the paper by Vlach which I linked previously, especially his "Observation 4".

I will agree that most individuals in the Reformed camp are not well read in terms of Dispensationalism. They typically are well read, but it is more myopic in the views of the writers they read. In all fairness over the history of the Church the amount of writing that aligns with Reformed/Calvin/Covenant is significantly greater.

There definitely may be people you can find that may have used the term replacement. The Reformed movement is not entirely singular either, with individuals spread across a spectrum. For example, there are many Reformed that are not amillinealist. I would say in the age of today, the vast majority of those in the Reformed movement would not view the term replacement theology as being consistent with historic confessions. They would view that all those chosen by Christ in the past, today and in the future are the elect. And that the church contains the entirety of the elect. The reason why many would point to Dispensationalist as using the term replacement is that the Dispensationalist view two distinct groups (Israel and the Church). Without two distinct groups there is no replacement. Since the Reformed view is one body of God’s elect, there is no element of replacement.

Again, I am not defending the Reformed view, just trying to provide some data as we look at the two sides. I would also point out one last thing. I don’t view those who are Reformed as “uneducated” in the Scriptures or flippant with the Word of God. Those coming out of seminaries like Southern are very well educated and very well read. That is my exposure to both those who I have met as graduates, and my current classmates at Southern. I would say that they have a well thought out view of this with significant basis in Scripture, as well as alignment to historic confessions of the faith. We may not all agree with the framework, but I would be hesitant to classify them as reckless in their views.

It's funny that Reformed critics of dispensationalism will complain about having the replacement theology term applied to their view, and accuse dispensationalists of making up the label as a pejorative, when it is clear that the replacement language did not originate in dispensationalism. It really undermines their own credibility.

I'm fine with them using another term to replace replacement theology. I just wish they would do their homework and stop making false accusations against brothers.