Replacement Theology

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 1)

Recently I have been reminded of the Reformed community’s aversion to the label of supercessionism, or worse, replacement theology. In the last decade or so particularly I have read repeated disavowals of this term from covenant theologians. Not wanting to misrepresent or smear brethren with whom I disagree, I have to say that I struggle a bit with these protests.

“We are not replacement theologians” we are told, “but rather we believe in transformation or expansion.” By some of the objectors we are told that the church does not replace Israel because it actually is Israel — well, “true Israel” — the two designations are really one. This move is legitimate, they say, because the “true Israel” or “new Israel” is in direct continuity with Israel in the Old Testament.

In this series of posts I want to investigate the question of whether it is right; if I am right, to brand this outlook as replacement theology and supercessionism.

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The Trial and Execution of Sarah Good: A Case Study in Selective Theocracy

Beginning on March 1, 1692, Sarah Good, of Salem, Massachusetts, was examined on charges of witchcraft. Witnesses would later testify that she had engaged in witchcraft, ridden on brooms and poles, appeared as an apparition and tormented children, and otherwise bewitched various people in the community. Good denied all charges, including having familiarity with evil spirits and making a contract with the devil. The final recorded comments of her examination included the following exchange:

John Harthorn: who doe you serve?

Sarah Good: I serve god.

Harthorn: what god doe you serve?

Good: the god that made heaven and earth

In short, she denied all charges and claimed to be just like her examiners in serving God. She was executed by hanging on July 19, 1692.

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