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Augustine's Contribution to Supersessionism
Theological Studies ^ | Michael Vlach

Posted on 05/03/2012 5:00:42 PM PDT by wmfights

Augustine’s contribution to the doctrine of supersessionism is significant. James Carroll points out that Augustine’s attitude toward the Jews was rooted in “assumptions of supersessionism.”[i] According to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Augustine (354–430) introduced a “negative element into judgment on the Jews.”[ii] He did so by advancing the “‘theory of substitution’ whereby the New Israel of the church became a substitute of ancientIsrael.”[iii]

In line with supersessionist theology, Augustine explicitly stated that the title “Israel” belonged to the Christian church: “For if we hold with a firm heart the grace of God which hath been given us, we are Israel, the seed of Abraham. . . . Let therefore no Christian consider himself alien to the name of Israel.”[iv] He also said, “The Christian people then is rather Israel.”[v] According to Augustine, when Gentiles believe and become part of the new covenant, their hearts are circumcised and they become part of Israel:

Now what the apostle attributed to Gentiles of this character, how that “they have the work of the law written in their hearts;” must be some such thing as what he says to the Corinthians: “Not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” For thus do they become of the house of Israel, when their uncircumcision is accounted circumcision. . . . And therefore in the house of the true Israel, in which is no guile, they are partakers of the new testament.[vi]

Concerning Israel’s role in the plan of God, Augustine argued that national Israel prefiguredspiritual Israel—the Christian people:

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob three fathers, and one people. The fathers three, as it were in the beginning of the people; three fathers in whom the people was figured: and the former people itself the present people. For in the Jewish people was figured the Christian people. There a figure, here the truth; there a shadow, here the body: as the apostle says, “Now these things happened to them in a figure.”[vii]

For the most part, Augustine’s supersessionist views were not original. In fact, they were mostly consistent with the patristic tradition that preceded him. Augustine’s most original contribution regarding Israel and the church, however, can be found in his reasons for Israel’s continued existence. During Augustine’s time, the existence of the Jews and Judaism posed an apologetic problem for the church. If the church was the new Israel, for what purpose did national Israel exist?

Augustine offered an answer for this perceived dilemma. For him, the Jews functioned primarily as witnesses. They were witnesses to the faith preached by the prophets, witnesses of divine judgment, and witnesses of the validity of Christianity. He wrote, “But the Jews who slew Him . . . are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.”[viii] The Jews, according to Augustine, shielded Christians from accusations that Christians invented Old Testament prophecies that pointed to Jesus. Thus, the existence of non-Christian Jews was not a problem but an essential testimony to the truth of Christianity.

Hood views Augustine’s contribution in this area as “ingenious” because it “provided a foundation for tolerating Jews within a Christian society.”[ix] Augustine’s contention that the Jews were witnesses to Christianity became especially important when the crusades began and the church began to persecute heretics. Hood asserts that Augustine’s views “shielded the Jews of western Europe from the full force of Christendom’s coercive powers.”[x]

Although devoting much of his attention to matters such as free will, original sin, and predestination, Augustine’s views on the Jews and Judaism carried great weight for many years. In fact, Hood asserts that Augustine’s ideas on these matters “dominated the medieval debate.”[xi] This was so “despite the fact that Judaism and the Jews are not major themes in Augustine’s voluminous writings.”[xii] Yet, because Augustine’s writings in the Medieval Era were so revered, his thoughts on any topic, no matter how sparse, were considered important.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[i] James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 219.

[ii] Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, “Christianity and Judaism, a Historical and Theological Overview,” in Jews and Christians: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future, ed. James H. Charlesworth (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 20.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Augustine, On the Psalms 114.3, NPNF¹ 8:550.

[v] Augustine, On the Psalms 114.3, NPNF¹ 8:550.

[vi] Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 46, NPNF¹ 5:102–03.

[vii] Augustine, On the Gospel of St. John 11.8, NPNF¹ 7:77. Augustine also stated, “In that people [the Jews], plainly, the future Church was much more evidently prefigured.” Augustine, On the Catechising of the Uninstructed 19.33, NPNF¹ 3:304. Augustine expressed a supersessionist perspective when he wrote, “But when they [the Jews] killed Him, then though they knew it not, they prepared a Supper for us.” Augustine,Sermons on New Testament Lessons, Sermon 62, NPNF¹ 6:447.

[viii] Augustine, The City of God Book 18.46, NPNF¹ 2:389.

[ix] John Y. B. Hood, Aquinas and the Jews (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), 12. Carroll states, “It is not too much to say that, at this juncture, Christianity ‘permitted’ Judaism to endure because of Augustine.” Carroll, Constantine’s Sword, 218. See also Jeremy Cohen, “Introduction,” inEssential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict: From Late Antiquity to the Reformation, ed. Jeremy Cohen (New York: New York University Press, 1991), 13–14.

[x] Hood, 13.

[xi] Hood, Aquinas and the Jews, 10.

[xii] Ibid.


TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: supersessionism
For the most part, Augustine’s supersessionist views were not original. In fact, they were mostly consistent with the patristic tradition that preceded him. Augustine’s most original contribution regarding Israel and the church, however, can be found in his reasons for Israel’s continued existence. During Augustine’s time, the existence of the Jews and Judaism posed an apologetic problem for the church. If the church was the new Israel, for what purpose did national Israel exist?
1 posted on 05/03/2012 5:00:55 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...
Ping

2nd in a series on Supersessionism.

2 posted on 05/03/2012 5:06:33 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...
Ping

2nd in a series on Supersessionism.

3 posted on 05/03/2012 5:11:26 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights
“If the church was the new Israel, for what purpose did national Israel exist?”

An equally good question would be why what was left of that nation of Israel should not be left? The temple had been destroyed and was not going to be rebuilt so a national place of worship no longer existed, hence no priestly services as the Law demanded. No one to sit on the throne as head of a civil government.

Jesus had said, “Your house is abandoned to you”, and that had occurred so what more was needed to demonstrate the rejection of that nation for their rejection of Jehovah or Yahweh?

4 posted on 05/03/2012 6:21:18 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: wmfights

Augustine’s supersessionist views would be shaken had he been around 1948.


5 posted on 05/03/2012 7:13:23 PM PDT by the_daug
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To: wmfights

Have you read any Augustine? Just wondering.


6 posted on 05/03/2012 7:52:37 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: count-your-change; wmfights
Jesus had said, “Your house is abandoned to you”, and that had occurred so what more was needed to demonstrate the rejection of that nation for their rejection of Jehovah or Yahweh?

The entire verse provides an option.
"Behold, your house is left to you desolate;
and I say to you, you will not see Me until
the time comes when you say,
'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
7 posted on 05/03/2012 8:07:13 PM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: wmfights

Not knocking Augustine, but I’d rather read Apostle Paul on the Jews myself. He explains the situation quite well in Romans.


8 posted on 05/03/2012 8:26:00 PM PDT by avenir (I'm pessimistic about man, but I'm optimistic about GOD!)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012

If an option then one not taken.


9 posted on 05/03/2012 9:01:31 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: wmfights

Thanks for the ping!


10 posted on 05/03/2012 9:26:45 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
Yes, Uri'-el, and God's precious chosen people will utter those exact words at the end of the Tribulation and that is when Jesus will keep His promise to them and will return.

This is why Satan has been in a frenzy for the last 4000 years to exterminate every Jewish person from the face of the earth. If there are no Jews to call for Jesus to return, the "logic" says, then Jesus won't return and throw Satan into hell. However, this will happen, the Jews will fulfill that prophecy, Jesus will return, and all the rest of prophetic Scripture will come to pass.

It will be a unspeakable joy to see God grant all His promises to the Jewish people during His Millennial Reign. We can all praise God that this present age will end and God will be proven holy and righteous and true.

"Let God be true and every man a liar."

Maranatha!

11 posted on 05/04/2012 4:29:43 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta ("....in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking... (2 Peter 3:3))
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To: count-your-change
If an option then one not taken.

YET !
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
12 posted on 05/04/2012 7:25:23 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: the_daug
Augustine’s supersessionist views would be shaken had he been around 1948.

I think your right. They probably would have been shaken even earlier if he had been alive during the inquisition.

13 posted on 05/04/2012 7:34:09 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: avenir
Not knocking Augustine, but I’d rather read Apostle Paul on the Jews myself. He explains the situation quite well in Romans.

No argument from me. Scripture is always the best source. This thread is part of a series on supersessionism. The author is giving some historical background how this erroneous belief grew in popularity.

14 posted on 05/04/2012 7:39:21 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights; avenir
Also look at N.T. Wright's book on Paul, Paul in Fresh Perspective and Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision for more on this subject.
15 posted on 05/04/2012 7:43:15 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: GiovannaNicoletta; UriĀ’el-2012
However, this will happen, the Jews will fulfill that prophecy, Jesus will return, and all the rest of prophetic Scripture will come to pass.

Knowing this truth makes me jump for joy.

16 posted on 05/04/2012 7:43:58 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: UriĀ’el-2012

And no indication in the verse you quoted that such would ever occur. So yes, not yet, and no, not necessarily ever.


17 posted on 05/04/2012 7:59:59 AM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: count-your-change
And no indication in the verse you quoted that such would ever occur. So yes, not yet, and no, not necessarily ever

You seem painfully ignorant of the WORD of G-d.

Yah'shua's Rabbi : Paul goes into great detail in Romans 11.
he begins in verse one discussing the question.

NAsbU Romans 11:1 I say then,
God has not rejected His people,
has He? May it never be!
For I too am an Israelite,
a descendant of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
You might want to ask yourself the question:
NAsbU Romans 11:34
For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD,
OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?
Or this famous verse:
NAU Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren,
to be uninformed of this mystery--
so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--
that a partial hardening has happened to Israel
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
Be Blessed than they have stumbled,
as it is what has allowed the Gentiles
to be grafted into the vine.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
18 posted on 05/04/2012 11:50:19 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
If you feel pain it's not from any ignorance on my part.

However...that part of Israel saved was but a remnant (11:5) as Isaiah had foretold.(9:27).

Whether Jew or Gentile faith in Christ was required before being considered a branch on that tree, Israel. (11:23)

Those of the nations grafted in and that faithful remnant together would form “Israel” that was to be saved. (11:25,26)

But just who is “Israel”? (9:6,7) being born into the fleshly nation of Israel did not make one an “Israelite” in God's sight but being a children of the promise, whether Jew or Greek, made one an “Israelite” by faith and God's choosing. (9:14,15) (10:4)(10:4)

“Israel” would be made up of a remnant of Jews who put faith in Christ and Gentiles sufficient to fill up the number of His nation of kings and priests. (10:11,12)

19 posted on 05/04/2012 2:28:06 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: count-your-change
Whether Jew or Gentile faith in Christ was required before being considered a branch on that tree, Israel. (11:23)

It is painful to watch you twist and torture the WORD of G-d.
NAsbU Romans 11:23 And they also,
if they do not continue in their
unbelief, will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again.
I do not find the word Christ in that verse.

Yah'shua NAME in Hebrew is "YHvH be/is my Salvation"

There is only ONE YHvH.

Yah'shua is quoted stating such in Mark
( Peter's amanuensis).

NAsbU Mark 12:29 Jesus answered,
"The foremost is,
'HEAR, O ISRAEL! YHvH OUR GOD IS ONE YHvH;
Seek YHvH in His WORD !
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
20 posted on 05/04/2012 5:05:27 PM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: count-your-change
Shabbat Shalom !
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach

21 posted on 05/04/2012 5:06:37 PM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012

“I do not find the word Christ in that verse”

Since it’s not there I wouldn’t expect you to but then again I wasn’t quoting the verse but explaining (how obvious can it be?)


22 posted on 05/04/2012 6:15:12 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
It's a waste of time, Uri-el.

If God has lied to the Jews and has broken His promises to them, then He has broken His promises to everyone and committed a horrific sin when He sent Jesus Christ to die. If He has lied to the Jews, and has broken His eternal covenants with them (even though those who make these lies about God can never produce His words that tell us that His eternal covenant with His chosen people is broken), then He has lied also to those who believe they are saved. If God will lie to one, He will lie to all.

This is the real issue you are dealing with:

in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

and

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Satan was the first person to deny the word of God and call God a liar and anyone who follows in that path and denies the word of God and says that there are parts of the Bible in which God lies does not know Christ as Savior. It's that simple.

God promised His people He would bring them back from among the nations into their own land and He has fulfilled that promise. He promised His people He would restore their nation and He has fulfilled that promise.

God is in the process of keeping the promises He made to His people, and despite the best efforts of those who, like Satan, despise the Jewish people and have allowed themselves to be deceived into believing that the Bible is a book of fairy tales and that God lies, He will continue to keep every last promise He made to the Jews down to the most minute detail.

Whenever you see a person denying the Scripture that details God's promises to the Jews, and lying about what God has said about His chosen people, you can know that you are not dealing with someone who knows Christ as Savior. No true believer in Christ would deny His word, and no true believer in Christ would accuse Him of lying.

23 posted on 05/05/2012 3:46:54 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta ("....in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking... (2 Peter 3:3))
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