Is Replacement Theology Inherently Anti-Semitic?

Is Replacement Theology Inherently Anti-Semitic?

 

Replacement theology (also known as “supersessionism”) is rapidly gaining traction in historically conservative evangelical churches around the world. The term “replacement theology” means that the church has replaced Israel in God’s program because as a nation they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah and so forfeited their right to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17), as well as those made to Moses in the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 29, 30), to David in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7), and to Jeremiah in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31).

According to this view, since Israel forfeited its place in God’s program, national Israel has no legitimate claim to the land promised to them by God. Furthermore, there can be no expectation that Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of the nation and the world, nor that Jesus Christ will rule over a literal 1000-year kingdom from a rebuilt temple in that city.

Replacement theology tends to be a part of Reformed Theology, with its attendant Covenant Theology (in contrast to dispensational theology). However, Reformed theologians themselves would generally reject the concept of replacement theology due to the fact that they recognize only one people of God throughout the Bible, rather than the two peoples of God (Israel and the church) as held by dispensationalists. Therefore, they would contend that the church has not actually replaced Israel, but rather that the church is simply the True Israel and that the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament were always intended to be fulfilled spiritually in the church, rather than literally to national Israel.

However, God made four unconditional and eternal covenants with His people, the nation of Israel, which guaranteed that they would experience material and spiritual blessings, have many descendants and receive a piece of real estate that would stretch from the Nile to the Euphrates river. In the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, God affirms that (and I’ll paraphrase here) if the universe could collapse on its own, “…then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me forever” (Jeremiah 31:36).

The inherent danger of Replacement Theology, or whatever one may choose to call a theology that denies a future for the nation of Israel, is that historically it has often fostered incipient or outright anti-Semitism. This would be true of the Holocaust, the modern BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) movement, as well as white supremacist movements. This is not to suggest that any given individual who embraces Reformed theology is anti-Semitic. But whenever any theology sets itself against the clear promises of God and His carefully outlined plan for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, the potential dangers cannot be overstated.

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