How on earth did Marcionism survive? It was clearly a case of trying to fit a square pagan peg into a round Biblical hole and, when it didn’t fit, to hack away at the hole with a chisel. Yet survive it did and we are going to see it emerge again and again as we follow our story through the pages of history.
This view has heavily influenced Replacement Theology, a dangerous idea because of the consequences that can flow from it. It has sadly become a breeding ground for much of the anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism that still plagues our Church, though – and it needs to be stressed – not everyone who follows this view is anti-Semitic.
Replacement Theology (or Supercessionism) has become (certainly in the UK) the dominant view of the Christian Church on the matter of Israel and the Jewish people. There are two major elements to Replacement Theology:
1. Rejection of a literal reading of certain Bible verses (particularly the Old Testament). The rejecting of obvious meanings of Scripture in order to justify their own positions regarding the ‘true’ meaning of the text.
2. The spiritualising of certain Bible verses (particularly the Old Testament), using such methods as allegory and functional hermeneutics.
This was significant. By extensive use of allegory and symbolism, anyone can make the Bible say anything at all! You can squeeze all sorts of ‘new revelations’ out of Scripture, something that still goes on today.
If the Church is the ‘new Israel’ do the references to Israel in the New Testament obviously refer to the Church? Let’s look at the Bible. Of the 77 times the words Israel or Israelite occur in the New Testament:
In 9 cases they are direct quotations from the Old Testament, so the meaning must be the same. e.g. Matthew 2:6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.'” (quoting from Micah 5:2)
In 66 cases they are not Old Testament quotes but clearly do not refer to the Church e.g. Matthew 10:6: ‘Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel’, Romans 11:26: ‘And so all Israel will be saved. …’ Use a concordance or Bible software and see the list for yourself and be convinced.
In only 2 cases (Romans 9:6-9 and Galatians 6:15-16), this interpretation would seem to be an obvious choice, but in both cases Paul is restricting the use of the word Israel to those Jews who had accepted Jesus.
So where did the idea of the Church being the ‘new Israel’ come from? It certainly doesn’t seem to be from a systematic review of the New Testament. The key word is tradition. Just as Jesus constantly argued with the Pharisees over their use of the ‘traditions of the elders’, rather than the Word of God, so we must follow his example and do the same, unless we want to follow Churchianity rather than Christianity, tradition rather than Scripture.
In Acts 1:6, when Jesus was asked, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’, this would have been a good opportunity for him to answer, “What exactly do you mean by ‘Israel’ because, you see, I’ve changed the rules”. But he didn’t, because, for Jesus, Israel was Israel was Israel.
Also, one of the claims of these people is that the Church inherits the blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament. But what of the curses in the Old Testament? No, we don’t want those, we’ll leave those with the Jews! Examples of this can be shown by looking at earlier editions of the King James Version of the Bible.
The chapter heading in this Bible above Isaiah 59 reads ‘The sins of the Jews’ and the next chapter has the heading ‘Glory of the Church’. Everything that is nice and positive is thus promised to the Church and all the curses are left for the Jews! None of this was in the original Biblical text; it was added by English translators, who had already made up their minds and wanted to tell the World what they thought.
Needless to say, returning to the theme of these articles, Mr. Shoots has most assuredly bought into this Replacement Theology in one way or another.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve’s book Outcast Nation )
What is the dominant view on Israel for the UK Church?