Series - Replacement

“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 9)

Read the series.

This is the final post in this series, the purpose of which has been to ask whether “replacement theology” and “supercessionism” correctly describe what some theologies, covenant theology especially, do with the nation of Israel and its OT promises in teaching fulfillment through “transformation” into Christ and the church. I am not saying that every CT (or NCT) will want to see themselves undercover of these names, only that the names fairly describe this aspect of the way these good people interpret the NT’s use of the OT.

We have seen that replacement theology exists. I have shown that some CT’s actually use the term “replace” (or “supercessionism”) to describe their approach in their own works, and that they recommend books that unashamedly use it. More anecdotally, I have encountered this opinion many times in conversations.

Of course, replacement theology is not confined to orthodox Reformed covenantalism, but they are the ones whose books and lectures I know best. In this tradition, it is common to view the history of Israel as primarily a structural learning device; a tool for teaching the Christian church through narrative and type; a “means to an end” as R. Scott Clark put it.

2616 reads

“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 8)

Read the series so far.

My stated intention in these posts is to try to settle whether or not it is proper to speak in terms of theologies of supercessionism or replacement theology. It is not my design to argue for the opposite view (which I have done many times before). I am coming towards the end of my article, with probably one post left to go. I said that I wanted to take a look at two OT passages to discover how those holding to one or more forms of supercessionism handle them.

Jeremiah 31:31-37

The first passage is the famous New covenant prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-34. It involves a prediction of cleansing and salvation for Israel and Judah and their reunification. The passage is repeated in Hebrews 8:8-12. But attached to the original prophecy is a crystal clear guarantee that if man can tinker with the ordinances of creation,which stand fast (Psa. 33:9), “then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” (Jer. 31:36). That sounds like a rock solid affirmation of the perpetuity of the existence of Israel as a nation!

565 reads

“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 7)

Read the series so far.

Gary Burge: Replacement Theologian

The name of Gary Burge of Wheaton College is familiar to many Christians who teach eschatology that includes the restoration of the remnant of the nation of Israel, but not for positive reasons. His positions on Israel, fueled in large part by his associations with the anti-Israel group Kairos USA, Naim Ateek, Stephen Sizer, and Pro-Palestinianism in general, hardly encourage fuzzy feelings. On the theological front, Burge freely speaks of spiritualizing and reinterpreting Scripture. Not surprisingly, Burge is a convinced replacement theologian.

For as we shall see (and as commentators regularly show) while the land itself had a concrete application for most in Judaism, Jesus and his followers reinterpreted the promises that came to those in his kingdom. (Gary M. Burge, Jesus and the Land, 35)

1119 reads

“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 6)

Read the series so far.

I finished the last installment by stating that in viewing the Bible from a certain redemptive-historical perspective (a common one I might add), the only conclusion that one can come to is that the church has always existed, and that therefore elect Israel in the OT was the church of the OT to which now the Gentiles have been added in the NT era.

Remember these words from Sam Storms:

[Paul] clearly states that there is but one olive tree, rooted in the promises given to the patriarchs. In this one tree (i.e., in this one people of God) there are both believing Jews (natural branches) and believing Gentiles (unnatural branches). Together they constitute the one people of God, the one “new man,” the true Israel in and for whom the promises will be fulfilled. This one people, of course, is the Church. (Sam Storms, Kingdom Come, 195)

799 reads

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 5)

Read the series so far.

Incipient Supercessionsm

So far I have tried to show that replacement theology exists and that it is a coinage of at least some covenant theologians, and also that it can take the shape either of direct replacementism (i.e. the church replaces Israel), or else conceptual replacementism (aspects of Israel’s promises are superseded by antitypes in the church). However, there is no shortage of men who vehemently deny that their theology is replacement theology. Sam Storms has stated,

Replacement theology would assert that God has uprooted and eternally cast aside the olive tree which is Israel and has planted, in its place, an entirely new one, the Church. All the promises given to the former have been transferred to the latter. But this is not what Paul says. He clearly states that there is but one olive tree, rooted in the promises given to the patriarchs. In this one tree (i.e., in this one people of God) there are both believing Jews (natural branches) and believing Gentiles (unnatural branches). Together they constitute the one people of God, the one “new man,” the true Israel in and for whom the promises will be fulfilled. This one people, of course, is the Church. (Sam Storms, Kingdom Come, 195; my emphasis)

851 reads

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 4)

Read the series so far.

A Little More on the Reality of “Replacementism”

Theologian R. Kendall Soulen opens his book about supercessionism in church history with an explanation of what supercessionism is:

According to this teaching, God chose the Jewish people after the fall of Adam in order to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior. After Christ came, however, the special role of the Jewish people came to an end and its place was taken by the church, the new Israel. (The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 1-2)

This description matches our basic definition of supercessionism as “the switching out of “old Israel” with “new,” true Israel.” I think I have already proven that this teaching exists. I add to previous quotes this one from the Adventist theologian Hans LaRondelle. He is referencing Matthew 21:43:

2302 reads

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 3)

Read the series so far.

Replacement of Concepts?

In the book The Meaning of the Millennium (ed. Robert G. Clouse), the well known postmillennial scholar Loraine Boettner said,

The land of Palestine…was given to Abraham and his seed “for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). But the same thing is said of the perpetual duration of the priesthood of Aaron (Ex. 40:15), the Passover (Ex. 12:14), the Sabbath (Ex. 31:17) and David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:13, 16, 24). But in the light of the New Testament all of those things have passed away. (98)

4043 reads

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 2)

Read the series so far.

It’s a Real Thing

That replacement theology actually exists should be beyond dispute. In a well known admission, the esteemed NT scholar C.E.B. Cranfield wrote,

the assumption that the Church has simply replaced Israel as the people of God is extremely common… . And I confess with shame to having also myself used in print on more than one occasion this language of the replacement of Israel by the Church. (C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 2, 448.)

If such a prominent voice as Cranfield’s says that replacement theology is no fiction then clearly we have something to talk about.

1699 reads

Pages