At the beginning of this year I wrote on Dr. Michael Vlach’s book Premillennialism (post 1 and 2). I loved it so much that I have picked up another of his—this time on replacement theology, also known as supersessionism.
Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation will make for a good background study as I continue to teach through the book of Revelation. Vlach’s work is just over 200 pages, and he pledges to exegete this issue biblically, theologically, and historically. My plan is to post a handful of excerpts and observations along the way.
In the book’s introduction Vlach writes that “one’s hermeneutical assumptions will largely determine where one lands on the relationship between Israel and the church” (1).
There are those who would say that the church is the “new” or “true” Israel. And others such as myself, who see Scripture teaching nonsupersessionism. I believe that there are explicit biblical passages declaring Israel will return to her land and be restored to prominence in the earthly millennium.
Vlach begins by stating that there are three questions which must be answered in order for the doctrine of replacement theology to be true:
First, supersessionists need to explain how God can make multiple eternal and unconditional promises and covenants to the nation Israel and then not fulfill these promises with this specific group. If God is true and cannot lie, how can He promise the nation Israel certain things and then not complete the fulfillment with the group to whom the promises were made? …how God can promise certain blessings to a certain people without the fulfillment of these promises involving the same people.
Second, in order for supersessionism to be accepted as true, it must be shown that the church is now considered the new or true Israel… There must be proof that the titles of “Israel” and “Jew” have now been transcended or broadened to include believing Gentiles.
Third, supersessionists need to show that the church inherits national Israel’s covenants and promises in such a way that we should not expect a future fulfillment of these with national Israel. (2)
Pins and needles. I love this subject and cannot wait to share my reading journey with you. It is my expectation that this book will give compelling scriptural evidence as to why one should believe in a future for ethnic and national Israel.
Paul answers this same question in his letter to the Romans, stating that Israel can never-ever be completely cast aside, “I ask, then, has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! [μὴ γένοιτο, the strongest negative in Koine Greek] For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom 11:1-2, HCSB).