Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is Traditional Reformed Theology Anti-Jewish? II.

We are asking an important question. Alas it is true that many Christians over the centuries have been as anti-Jewish as the Jews have been anti-Christian. We have spoken with Mr. David Bond of Christian Witness to Israel, who has informed us that modern Rabbinical Judaism seems to have been formulated after the destruction of Jerusalem with a decided anti-Christian bias. This does not excuse Christians who blindly follow Medieval traditions and engage in eisegetical gymnastics to make the 'all Israel' of Romans 11 mean simply 'all the Church'. As we have seen, that prince of Reformed exegetes, John Calvin, condemns them in that!
Again, there ARE Replacement theologians. It would be vain and foolish to deny it. But John Calvin, John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, Matthew Poole, John Gill, Joseph Kinghorn, Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd, Robert Haldane, Thomas Chalmers, John Wesley, Adam Clark, John Brown of Haddington, Samuel Rutherford, and Andrew Fuller CANNOT be claimed in support for such a position.

Thus, as the incomparable J.C. Philpot, one of the most influential Strict Baptists of his day, said in a sermon preached in 1867 at Gower Street Chapel in London:
"To my mind it is scarcely possible to read these ancient prophecies with an enlightened and impartial eye without being compelled to believe that they will be literally fulfilled in the literal Israel... Have we not seen the literal fulfillment of the threatenings? Why then should we disbelieve the literal fulfillment of the promises?" (Gospel Pulpit, Vol. 6 Pp. 3-4

His point is well taken. Replacement theology sees literal Israel as inheriting only the threatenings, engrafting theology (as we would name our position) sees them as to inherit the blessings at a future time.
How are we to look forward to this event? Surely with the longing of Samuel Rutherford, who wrote:
"O to see the sight, next to Christ's coming in the clouds the most joyful! Our elder brethren the Jews and Christ fall upon each other's necks and kiss each other! They have long been assunder, they will be kind to one another when they meet. O day! O longed-for and lovely day-dawn! O sweet Jesus, let me see that sight which will be as life from the dead, thee and thine ancient people in mutual embrace!"

Now who can fault such zeal as that. such heart-felt prayer?

It may be said "you believe that the Jews will be swallowed up and cease to be a people." Not at all! This is to swallow Jewish anti-Christianism, which makes 'Jew' and 'Christian' mutually exclusive. To go down that road leads to heresy, as Dr. Horner agrees. No, when a Jew is converted to Christianity, he remains a Jew, just as a Welshman remains a Welshman and an Italian remains Italian. But the Jewish people have a promise no other nation has (being, as Calvin says, the Firstborn of the people of God).
It is true that not all who are Calvinistic on this point (stretching the term a little) looked for their restoration to the Land. But this was not a point of faith, it was rather a point of unbelief. In fact the conversion of the Jews requires their return to the Land, for how else can they be gathered together (Adam Clark)? How else can the fulfillment of the promises come about, when one of them is restoration to the Land?
So why have some engrafting theologians in the past doubted this fact? Because they staggered at the thought. The Jews, scattered among the nations for centuries, gathered back into Israel? So it has proved!

Again, we have swelled this article to incredible size, for which we apologise. We shall continue, God willing, next time. In the meantime, here are two useful articles exposing Replacement Theology from the CWI website:
Happy Birthday! To Who? Was the Church born at Pentecost?
Boasting Against the Natural Branches. A review of The Church is Israel Now

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