Anyone who has moved in church circles for very long will be aware of the drive against Replacement Theology. This campaign is also strong on the internet, with statements such as “Replacement Theology places all the blessings of Israel on the Church and all the curses are given to the ‘Old Israel’.” The odd thing here is that I have no difficulty at all finding Christian Zionists, or Hebrew Roots people, or subscribers to Covenant Theology, (the opposite of Replacement) or churchgoers who simply have a great love or veneration for the Jews. But I don’t think I’ve met anyone who subscribes to anything like this definition of Replacement Theology. So the great campaign against such people seems to be lacking a target. What’s going on?
The Bible, obviously our most reliable source on such matters, is pretty clear. God has always sought to bless Man that He created, and has never swerved from that intention. The fact that at times He has seen fit to pour out some heavy punishment, the greatest example being Noah’s Flood, in no way alters that. Through the Flood He saved Noah and his family for a fresh start. This is how God works. Men may fail, but God always has another strategy to give us another chance. One such strategy was His choice of the Jews to receive His blessings, to be an example to other men, and ultimately to be a channel of Salvation for all men. This strategy was fulfilled in a Jew called Jesus, and proclaimed clearly to the World by another Jew called Saul/Paul. This strategy involved an awesome Salvation for all Men. The letter to Hebrews asks “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation?” Notice that this is in the letter to the Hebrews. The Gospel was first for the Jew. Only later was it preached also to Gentiles. But the order is less important than the fact that this Salvation was for all men. And it still is.
At the present time many Jews are opposed to Christianity. This is a temporary situation, as the Bible makes it clear that at some point the Great Salvation in Christ will not merely be available to Jews as now, but will actually be embraced by many or all of them. In the meantime, Christians are the ones shouldering the crucial work of propagating the Gospel. Given the history, it seems probable that it was God’s original plan for the Jews first and foremost to be doing this. Clearly they are not, and in this vital sense at least, currently, they have been replaced by Christians. They are not those preaching the Gospel, but rather potential and greatly desired recipients of it. As already pointed out, God’s intentions, His love for all He created, do not change. He already has a plan. For Christians to comply with it, all that is required is to demonstrate God’s love, search always for truth in everything, and explain the Gospel of Christ wherever possible.
So there is currently a replacement, but not at all in the terms quoted in the first paragraph. And it is very difficult to imagine how any honest student of the Bible could arrive at such a view. Again I ask, why this great campaign against a theology that not only lacks Biblical support, but also seems to lack any actual supporters?
Is there an explanation in the two warnings in Revelation about “those who call themselves Jews, but are not, and are a Synagogue of Satan”. These verses receive very little attention, even though many Christians have a strong sense that we are in the End Times, and Revelation is the very book that focuses most strongly on that subject. Are these warnings passed over because they only refer to people “who call themselves” Jews, making it unclear who they are? In fact there is no lack of clarity: if asked my name, since I’m English, I say “My name is Keith.” If I was French, I would say “Je m’appelle Keith,” which translated word-for-word becomes “I call myself Keith.” If we add here Paul’s discourse in Romans that “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly” we get an even clearer picture. Paul is saying you can “Call yourself a Christian”, “Call yourself a Jew” or “Call yourself whatever you like”, but the truth is in the heart. What anyone calls himself doesn’t matter.
So John, in Revelation, seems to be warning against people who claim to be Jews, which infers godliness, but are not really. Then he adds “but are a synagogue of Satan”. That’s a bit strong, isn’t it? For sure, Jews aren’t Christian, but neither are atheists, nor Muslims, nor Hindus, nor Pagans. What’s the difference here? The difference is that many atheists have some regard for Christ as a “Good Man”. Muslims regard Him as a prophet. Hindus often incorporate Him into their Pantheon of gods. And only last week I just had to speak with a beggar who was sitting on the pavement reading a Red Letter Bible. Her dress and her world-view were deeply Pagan, but she thought Jesus was brilliant. For Observant Jews, on the contrary, He is a liar, an apostate, a sorcerer, a blasphemer. A man, and only a man, truly worthy of crucifixion.
Back to Replacement Theology! Contrasting the great awareness of it generated in churches and on the internet, with the near-invisibility of the statements above from Revelation, does suggest a reason for the hype. The hype deflects attention from what the Bible says, and instead disseminates a belief that provides fertile ground for Christian Zionism. Christian Zionism has massive support in the USA, and therefore also plenty of money to defend and promote it. It may seem desirable to have money behind Christian objectives. But the ultimate aim of Zionism is the Restoration of Animal Sacrifice. All attempts at such a Restoration are a blatant denial of the Sacrifice of Christ. Those attempts will continue until they are successful; and will always include strategies to rally Christians in support, or at least to distract them. Christians have no need of Animal Sacrifice. But Jews, like everyone else, need to hear about, understand, and accept the Great Salvation which is in Jesus. Are they likely to hear that Good News from people who, far from seeing the need to promote the Gospel, venerate the Jews and support their programme to restore Sacrifice in the Third Temple? Is the campaign against Replacement Theology a flank attack on anyone who sees that Jews need the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, not the sacrifice of sheep?