From Bill Sutter’s Desk May/Jun 2007
Reports from many areas of our worldwide ministry indicate a resurgence of an errant teaching best described as Replacement Theology. Deviating from a literal interpretation of God’s prophetic Word, Replacement Theology holds that the church and Christians have replaced Israel and the Jewish people as the recipients of the promises God made to Israel. Adherents contend that Israel has no future in God’s plan.
The case for Replacement Theology is expressed in “An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel.” Posted under the banner of Knox Theological Seminary and The Wittenberg Door magazine, it denies God’s plans for the nation of Israel. Below are excerpts, followed by what we believe to be the truth.
1. The entitlement of any one ethnic or religious group to territory in the Middle East called the “Holy Land” cannot be supported by Scripture.
This assertion contradicts God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, 13, and 15.
2. The promised Messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ has been inaugurated.
This stance spiritualizes Christ’s Kingdom and thereby denies His literal, future reign of righteousness on the earth for 1,000 years—a prophetic truth repeated several times in Revelation 20.
3. Futhermore, 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.
This statement flies in the face of the abundant prophetic teachings in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Regrettably, after stripping Israel of God’s promises, proponents of Replacement Theology then cast Israel as the militant aggressor in the Middle East conflict.
4. Lamentably, bad Christian theology is today attributing to secular Israel a divine mandate to conquer and hold Palestine, with the consequence that the Palestinian people are marginalized and regarded as virtual “Canaanites.”
Such an outrageous charge completely disregards tiny Israel’s continuing struggle for survival in the midst of a huge, hostile, Arab and Islamic world bent on its destruction.
Since its posting in 2002, this Open Letter has been signed by more than 150 Christian educators, pastors, public figures, and lay leaders—many with Presbyterian affiliations. They are, in effect, declaring that God is finished with Israel as a nation. Tragically, the second signer is the well-known R. C. Sproul, president of Ligonier Ministries.
Particularly offensive is the implication in the letter’s last paragraph that those of us who believe in the literal fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures have departed from “the proclamation of the free offer of Christ’s grace in the Gospel to all the children of Abraham.” Nothing could be further from the truth!
Embedded in Replacement Theology is the teaching that Israel today has nothing to do with Israel of the Bible. Therefore, it is no different in the mind of God than any other country of the world. Proponents of Replacement Theology apparently ignore God’s miraculous preservation of the Jewish people over the millennia, His unseen hand in the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948, and His preservation of that state against all human odds.
We at The Friends of Israel share no common ground with the spiritualizing, allegorizing, and denying of God’s prophetic Word—all of which characterize Replacement Theology. That’s why, throughout all areas of our ministry, we are strengthening our efforts to teach His Word literally, that is, dispensationally, by affirming that the church and Israel are distinct entities in God’s plan, with much yet to be fulfilled in national Israel.
Many thanks to the staff of Israel My Glory magazine for their efforts on behalf of this issue, one of The Friends of Israel’s most important ever.