Skip to comments.Answering the "Replacement Theology" Critics (Part 1)
Posted on 10/26/2007 9:00:59 PM PDT by topcat54
Replacement theology has become dispensationalism's latest prophetic boogeyman. If you want to end a debate over eschatology, just charge your opponent with holding to replacement theology. What is “replacement theology,” sometimes called “supersessionism,” and why do dispensationalists accuse non-dispensationalists of holding it? Here’s a typical dispensational definition:
Replacement Theology: a theological perspective that teaches that the Jews have been rejected by God and are no longer God’s Chosen People. Those who hold to this view disavow any ethnic future for the Jewish people in connection with the biblical covenants, believing that their spiritual destiny is either to perish or become a part of the new religion that superseded Judaism (whether Christianity or Islam).1
“Replacement theology” is dispensationalism’s trump card in any debate over eschatology because it implies anti-semitism. Hal Lindsey attempted to use this card in his poorly researched and argued The Road to Holocaust.2 He wove an innovative tale implying that anyone who is not a dispensationalist carries the seeds of anti-semitism within his or her prophetic system. This would mean that every Christian prior to 1830 would have been theologically anti-semitic although not personally anti-semtic.
As Peter Leithart and I point out in The Legacy of Hatred Continues,3 it’s dispensationalists who hold to a form of replacement theology since they believe that Israel does not have any prophetic significance this side of the rapture! Prior to the rapture, in terms of dispensational logic, the Church has replaced Israel. This is unquestionably true since God’s prophetic plan for Israel has been postponed until the prophetic time clock starts ticking again at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week which starts only after the Church is taken to heaven in the so-called rapture. Until then, God is dealing redemptively with the Church. Am I making this up? Consider the following by dispensationalist E. Schuyler English:
An intercalary4 period of history, after Christ’s death and resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, has intervened. This is the present age, the Church age. . . . During this time God has not been dealing with Israel nationally, for they have been blinded concerning God’s mercy in Christ. . . . However, God will again deal with Israel as a nation. This will be in Daniel’s seventieth week, a seven-year period yet to come.5
According to English and every other dispensationalist, the Church has replaced Israel until the rapture. The unfulfilled promises made to Israel are not fulfilled until after the Church is taken off the earth. Thomas Ice, one of dispensationalism’s rising stars, admits that the Church replaces Israel this side of the rapture: “We dispensationalists believe that the church has superseded Israel during the current church age, but God has a future time in which He will restore national Israel ‘as the institution for the administration of divine blessings to the world.’”6
Dispensationalists claim that their particular brand of eschatology is the only prophetic system that gives Israel her proper place in redemptive history. This is an odd thing to argue since two-thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered during the post-rapture tribulation, and the world will be nearly destroyed. Charles Ryrie writes in his book The Best is Yet to Come that during this post-rapture period Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.”7 The book’s title doesn’t seem to very appropriate considering that during this period of time most of the Jews will die! John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse any thing that it has known in the past. . . . [T]he people of Israel . . . are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.”8 Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.”9
During the time when Israel seems to be at peace with the world, she is really under the domination of the antichrist who will turn on her at the mid-point in the seven-year period. Israel waits more than 2000 years for the promises finally to be fulfilled, and before it happens, two-thirds of them are wiped out. Those who are charged with holding a “replacement theology viewpoint” believe in no inevitable future Jewish bloodbath. In fact, we believe that the Jews will inevitably embrace Jesus as the Messiah this side of the Second Coming. The fulfillment of Zechariah 13:8 is a past event. It may have had its fulfillment in the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Contrary to dispensationalism’s interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus' disciples warned the Jewish nation for nearly forty years about the impending judgment (Matt. 3:7; 21:42–46; 22:1–14; 24:15–22). Those who believed Jesus’ words of warning were delivered “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Those who continued to reject Jesus as the promised Messiah, even though they had been warned for a generation (Matt. 24:34), “wrath has come upon them to the utmost” (1 Thess. 2:16; cf. 1 Thess. 5:1–11; 2 Pet. 3:10–13).
Before critics of replacement theology throw stones, they need to take a look at their own prophetic system and see its many lapses in theology and logic.
Read Part Two of this article...
2. Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989). The address for Bantam Books is 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York.
3. Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Legacy of Hatred Continues: A Response to Hal Lindsey’s The Road to Holocaust (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1989).
4. Inserted into the calendar.
5. E. Schuyler English, A Companion to the New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 135.
6. Thomas Ice, “The Israel of God,” The Thomas Ice Collection: www.raptureready.com/featured/TheIsraelOfGod.html#_edn3
7. Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.
8. John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113. Emphasis added.
9. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262.
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
Worthwhile article. Thanks for posting it.
No wonder Reformation theology is associated with the Swiss.
It’s as full of holes as their famous cheese!
Good article (and so true).
BTW, to paraphrase Hanegraaff from his book “Apocalypse Code,” one can only pray and do all that’s permissible to see that this “pseudoeschatology” (i.e. dispensationalism) “will fade into the shadowy recesses of history.”
Intelligent, thought-provoking comments are always welcome.
Hanegraaff took a very Preterist view in his book that I did not find very convincing.
The author would do well to place far more faith in Romans Chapter 11 than his contrived contention.
The author manifests the same lack of faith which resulted in the some branches being broken off from the olive tree.
IMHO, I fear the Lord because I know how many times I might be equally as unfaithful in not realizing how incredibly great the Great Tribulation will be.
Those who believe the Great Tribulation fail to abide in Him through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25.
If the reformed assertion were to be true, then no Gentile believer could come from the Reformation because Romans was written circa 55-58 AD and the the fullness of the time of the Gentiles would have concluded 12 years later, resulting in no valid Church ever being formed beyond that 12 year cycle.
Accordingly, the Reformers devotion to the Great Tribulation having transpired circa 70 AD removes their branch from the olive tree, if true, at least for those Reformers who were originally Gentiles.
God doesn’t refer to it as the Great Tribulation simply because one town was decimated. Many larger tribulations have occurred to believers in Him since then, and it is well understood that there will never be a time on earth so troublesome as the Great Tribulation.
I'm not following your thought process here. Can you make it a bit clearer?
“it is well understood that there will never be a time on earth so troublesome as the Great Tribulation.”
Something to consider:
Exodus 11:6: There will be loud wailing throughout EgyptWORSE THAN THERE HAS EVER BEEN OR EVER WILL BE AGAIN.
Joel 2:2: a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
SUCH AS NEVER WAS OF OLD
NOR EVER WILL BE IN AGES TO COME.
Daniel 9:12: Under the whole heaven NOTHING HAS EVER BEEN DONE LIKE WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO JERUSALEM.
Also, as I think Hanegraaff made a great point, that the Great Flood left only 8 survivors on the whole Earth. It’s hard to believe the future “Great Tribulation” could be worse than that.
That’s what, I believe, is apocalyptic hyperbole that Christ used, using Old Testatment language (language which He often did reference).
“Hanegraaff took a very Preterist view in his book that I did not find very convincing.”
At least you read it. It appears that a lot of people are closed to even considering the differing views of Bible prophecy.
Thanks for the compliment!
I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
Those who believe the Great Tribulation has already occurred, fail to abide in Him through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25.
It still does not make any sense. How does one "fail to abide in Him" merely because one happens to disagree with the futurist/dispensationalist interpretation of events like the "great tribulation"?
If thats not to your liking, you might try something like The Last Days according to Jesus by RC Sproul or Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison.
“you might try something like The Last Days according to Jesus by RC Sproul or Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison.”
I’ve always had immense respect for RC Sproul in general and have read “The Last Days According to Jesus.” The other one I haven’t read yet, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll look for it.
Don’t ask me, ask Him, by faith alone in Him alone, through the guidance provided in Romans 11:25. Let God do all the work in your thinking.