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A View from the Altar / Replacement theology at State Department… sort of
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Replacement theology at State Department… sort of

Hillary Clinton has been pounding Israel for building houses in Jerusalem.  It’s a given in Foggy Bottom that Israel, of all nations upon Earth, mustn’t build houses in their capital city.  The tacit subtext is: Eventually, someday out yonder, however long it takes, the Jews must go.  Mr. Netanyahu, who is not a priss, jabbed his finger in Mrs. Clinton’s eye by announcing that “everyone knows” any final peace settlement in the Middle East will feature Jerusalem as Israel’s possession.  Nothing could have been more calculated to infuriate pro-despot bureaucrats at the Department of State.

Amongst all this a friend sent me an e-mail about a famous Baptist pastor who advocates a version of what has come to be called “replacement theology.”  Caution: Its advocates hate it when you call it that.  The basic notion behind replacement theology is that God has jettisoned ethnic, national Israel from his program and replaced Israel with the church.  The church is spiritual and doesn’t need national borders.  Ergo, it’d make their system look better if no Israel was actually over there, since it isn’t supposed to be.  Thus there arises this weird situation where the leanings of the State Department synch up with those of replacement theologians.  Odd… as if the Hell’s Angels and the Girl Scouts agreed about how to get the Hutus to get along with the Tutsis.

The New Testament indeed refers to the Gospel church as spiritual Israel in places too numerous to name.  It’s there, okay?  And it’s strong in there.  I got no prollem widdat.

But the notion of an ethnic, national Israel is in there too, and it’s strong in there.  What’s worse for advocates of replacement theology, both concepts occur together in a context that touches on the end times.  Romans 11 tells Gentile church members not to boast against the Jews because they are the “root” and we are merely “branches” grafted into a tree.  The Gentile churches don’t support the root, but the root supports us, says Paul, and where there are Jewish branches, they are natural branches.  If God didn’t spare the natural branches, then let’s be warned lest he also not spare us.  And God is able to graft the Jews back in again at a time and in circumstances of his choosing.  Paul alludes to the end times when he says that the gathering of the Jews will be “life from the dead,” a reference I’ve always interpreted as connecting the timing of the rapture with the salvation of ethnic Israel.

Replacement theology, in my opinion, is just a way of formally boasting against the natural branches.  It says no flesh will ever come upon the dry bones, no breath, no spirit, and especially no land.  Try that on Ezekiel 37:14 and see if you think it fits.  Worse, it gets things backward by suggesting to Jews that they essentially have to give up their Jewishness to become Christian, as if the Cherokees had to give up being Cherokee in order to be saved.  In so doing, it flirts with a heretical Gospel error by saying, but not really coming out and saying it, that except ye be uncircumcised after the manner of Gentiles, ye cannot be saved.

The Old Testament is clear that a day is coming when the world will gather against Israel.  Zech 14:2 and Micah 4:11 both foretell this, and Jesus mentions Jerusalem being surrounded on every side by her enemies. (Luke 21:20)  When the hour looks darkest for them, the Lord will deliver them from their enemies, confirming his love for them whereupon they will see and receive him. 

A blog is the wrong venue for describing everything the Bible would have us believe about Israel or the end times.  So this is far too short to deal with it adequately, but I need to say that the promises made to Abraham still apply.  (Gen 12:1-3)  They certainly apply to Israel, and by the grace of God, Christians are grafted into that tree.  We should honor God by believing his word and acting on it, even if it upsets some guy down at the session.   If God blesses Israel, so should we, and God promises to bless us in so doing.  In fact, if Yasser Arafat had blessed Israel, God would blessed him.  That didn’t happen, but if it had, he would have honored those who honor the true God by believing his word.

Unfortunately, this subject unavoidably smites the tar baby of politics, mostly because to the great displeasure of Arabs, the State Department, and replacement theologians, Israel is there with Jerusalem as its capital.  And Jews are building houses in it.  That fact puts people in the nasty position of having to choose up sides in an ancient conflict recently reignited by that Jewish presence. 

As the savants at Foggy Bottom see things, the surest route to peace in the Middle East is the dearth of Jews — please note the ‘r’, though one suspects State would as soon load them all on a rocket and launch it off the planet.  To that sentiment I reply that every nation that ever sought to rid itself of Jews regretted it.  What is Egypt now but a source of terrorists and a byword for prejudice, poverty, and squalor?  (Oh.  Yes.  Cotton.)  And Persia?  Don’t living Jews still celebrate Purim while the poor Iranians must endure Ahmedinejad and his cheery band of mullahs?  And did Hitler really help his war effort by banishing all those Jewish chemists and physicists to the United States where they went to work on the Manhattan Project?  What do you think will happen when the whole world wants rid of Jews?  Don’t ever bet against them.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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