Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Is Traditional Reformed Theology Anti-Jewish? III.

Iain H. Murray in his book The Puritan Hope (Banner, 1973), has noted that Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor at Geneva, developed the hints that are found in Calvin's Commentary on Romans into a theology of the restoration of Israel. Thus we may say that Calvin paved the way, and Beza followed him. Among the earlier Reformers Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr also held out a future hope for Israel.
One of Peter Martyr's students at Cambridge was Hugh Broughton (1549-1612). Broughton was consumed with a love for the Jews and desired to go to the Middle East to evangelise (there being very few, if any, Jews in England at that time). Unfortunately the government prevented his leaving, so he stayed, proposing a translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, the first Englishman to do such a thing.
Broughton's influence spread, and as Ian Murray notes:
"From the first quarter of the 17th century, belief in a future conversion of the Jews became commonplace among the English Puritans" (P. 47).

The list of Puritans Murray gives, which is by no means complete, contains such men as John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, Thomas Manton, John Flavel, William Gouge, William Perkins, Richard Sibbes, William Bridge and George Hutcheson. Indeed, as we have noted, the Westminster Assembly went so far as to enjoin all ministers in the national churches of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
"To pray for the propagation of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ to all nations; for the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles, the fall of antichrist, and the hastening of the Second Coming of Our Lord."

Under the second petition 'Thy Kingdom Come', in the Larger Catechism, they note also that part of the coming of this Kingdom will be "the Jews called" (Q. 191).
Following the Puritans a great company of Postmillennialists and Amillennialists looked forward to the restoration of the Jews: John Brown of Haddington, James Denney, Thomas Chalmers, Charles Hodge, John Bengel, Joseph Kinghorn, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Andrew Fuller, Henry Martyn, and so on. It just will not do to represent them as anomalies in the Protestant Churches.
Now the Dispensationalist will say "but that is just desiring that the Jews will be swalled up in the Church." No, rather we (and by 'we', we refer to those such as David Brown and ourselves) desire that the Gentiles be swallowed up in Israel, into which we have, by faith, been engrafted. The present 'Gentile' character of the Church is temporary. The Church's final character will be as the Israel of God, with all that means. Of course it is a 'Jewishness' the character of which is determined by the Bible, not Rabbinical Judaism today, which is unbelieving, and is in conscious rejection of Messiah.
Thus it is quite meaningless to speak of Israel as being swallowed up in the Church, for that is to say that Israel will be swallowed up in Israel. Of course so long as this world stands there will be national distinctions, and the Israeli will no more cease being an Israeli with all that means when he and his countrymen are converted than the Welshman ceases to be Welsh. We shall remain ourselves to all eternity also, though we Gentiles shall be in a 'second place' because it is not our Olive Tree.

We have now received our copy of Dr. Horner's book, and will give our first impressions on it next time.

God willing, next time we shall begin to deal with Dr. Horner's appearance on 'Iron Sharpens Iron'

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