Sunday, September 23, 2012

Origins of Supersessionism in the Church

Part 2 of the Messiah Journal 110/ Spring 2012 article: Origins of Supersessionism in the Church by James Pyles, is addressing egregious replacement theology beliefs that are evidenced through quotes like this:
“The visible Christian Church being now the New Covenant Israel, those whom we call “The Jews” are outsiders, cut off branches, having no more connection with either promises or prophecies than any Gentile group.
These now called “Jews”… have… no prophetic destiny, except a continuance of their present sad and bitters state, so long as they continue disobedient and unbelieving. They will not always so continue. St. Paul assures us that in time to come they will again be grafted in to the olive tree. This, however, will give them no prophetic future as a separate group. They will then also lose their distinct existence by absorption into the Christian Church. The closed book of Israel’s history will not be reopened.” Former professor of Bible and Missions at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, Albertus Pieters (1897-1987).
I’ve been to Western seminary and listened to some of their professors. What I wonder is how they rationalize the Bible when they come across passages such as the following: 
2 Samuel 7:22-24: "Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name--and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land--before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, LORD, have become their God.”
What do they do with the word “forever?” 
In 1948 the world took notice when Israel became a country again through miraculous means and the promises were fulfilled in the real Israel and not in the spiritualized new Israel (church.) It’s true Israel is primarily a secular nation and hasn’t recognized the Messiah yet. But then, the “church” hasn’t recognized Him fully either. In fact, our ignorance of the Torah has contributed to their prejudice. I’ve been asked many times why Jews haven’t accepted Jesus as their Messiah. My response is that we haven’t presented Him as the Jewish Messiah. We’re presenting a Gentile version of Him which invalidates His credentials. And this doesn’t even get into the anti-Jewish atrocities that Church history has loaded into the word “Christian.” The mere mention of the word makes many Jews cringe.  Torah Club and this blog (plus many other like-minded ministries and people) are trying to bridge this gap and inform the church how to better understand their Bible.
As Boaz alluded to in the quotes from last week’s post, the church doesn’t think they have a problem, but they do. I once had a talk with a Catholic friend and he said that Protestants have a thousand varieties; in fact the number is much higher. If one church gets enlightened, how do they get the word out to the other churches? If the church is part of a denomination, then is the church brave enough to mention it at the next regional or national meeting? Independents are isolated even more. Mars Hill church in Grandville, Michigan got the vision when their former pastor Rob Bell realized that understanding the Jewish roots was key to understanding the Bible. They ended up hosting one of the largest group of Torah Clubs in the nation, where words such as “remez” were heard in their “sermons.” But it’s one church and Rob left a few months ago.
Who is the spokesman who can redirect all of Protestantism? Catholics have the Pope; but we have a disparate collection of Evangelicals.  In fact, the Charismatic churches are closer to this awareness than most Baptist churches, as evidenced by comparing  Charisma magazine with Christianity Today. The Holy Spirit has to lead this change and we need to pray for it. Like the church in Sardis in the book of Revelation, we have to wake up.
One more thing before I close. I started reading a book I was given called Kingdom through Covenant by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. It is 716 pages long and I’m almost to 100. Broadly speaking, it is comparing the views of dispensational vs covenantal theologians. What to do with Israel comes up over and over again. In a long discussion about baptism vs circumcision it struck me how the argument never brought up what those two rites meant to Israel. They never went back to the source and studied it in the Biblical and cultural context of the time. They are destined to get the wrong interpretation if they continue on that path, and so it is with our churches today. More to come on that.

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