Vol: 27 Issue: 9 Saturday, September 9, 2017
In 2010, a Vatican synod on the Middle East handed over a document calling for Israel to end the “occupation” of Palestine.
In the very best traditions of replacement theology, the bishops demanded that Israel accept UN resolutions calling for an “end to its occupation of Arab lands” while fully aware that what they were really calling for was Israel’s national suicide.
The bishops warned Israel against using the Bible to justify “injustices” against the Palestinians. The Vatican synod prompted a discussion in the OL about Christian supersessionism, or what we generally understand as ‘replacement theology’.
Supersessionism is the root and branch of Christian anti-Semitism. It is an evil. One can trace pretty much every evil done in the Name of Christ down through the ages back to that hellish doctrine.
The Diaspora, the Crusades, the pogroms, the Holocaust — all played out in the shadow of the Cross.
The legacy of Christian supersessionism is writ large in Jewish blood across the pages of history. Essentially, supersessionists believe that God washed His hands of the Jews at the Cross and passed all the Covenant promises to the Church.
Supersessionism dominated organized mainstream religious thinking going back almost to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Once the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple and flattened the city, there was no Israel.
A hundred years later, there was a Church. But there was no Israel. The ‘Jews’ such as they existed, kept to themselves, at first by choice to maintain their identity, and later by enforced segregation.
Another hundred years, and the Church continued to grow despite the Roman persecution. And still no actual Israel.
The Church continued to prosper while memory of a literal Israel faded. A hundred years later, Emperor Constantine unites Western Christendom under the banner of Rome.
And the existence of a literal Israel is so distant a memory — and such an unlikely future – that the Christians of the time had nowhere to catalogue Old Testament promises of the existence of a literal Israel in the Kingdom Age and beyond into eternity.
You can’t just tear out huge sections of the Bible to explain away where Israel went. For almost all of the Church Age, the Bible’s references to Israel either had to be transferred to the Church . . . or the Bible wouldn’t make all that much sense.
Here’s where faith and scholarship usually collide.
Constantine, the Nicene Council, the Church Fathers and so on compiled the Bible – but at God’s direction. Even if they wanted to exclude certain confusing Scriptures about the extinct-for-centuries “Israel” they couldn’t.
They weren’t writing God’s history book, they were assembling it under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
It is important to understand the difference between the Divine Inspiration of Scripture and human interpretative error.
To the compilers and later, to the interpreters of Scripture, Israel had no discernible place – yet the Lord put Israel at the center of everything. You can’t get through five consecutive pages of Scripture without some running across a reference to Israel.
So if you are trying to interpret Scripture as infallible and Divinely-inspired and it talks about a place and a people as far removed from your reality as are fantasy worlds of hobbits and Middle Earth, it creates a problem.
A problem easily-solved by transferring the promises to a long-dead nation and it’s scattered and disconnected people to the now well-organized and institutionalized Church.
It made great sense down through the Dark Ages when visible Christianity meant Roman Catholicism.
It made just as much sense when Martin Luther began to question papal authority, spawning the Reformation.
The mainstream Protestant denominations that emerged from the Reformation had the same problem:
Here are these Scriptures, Divinely-inspired, upon whose authority they broke away from the traditional rituals.
“Sola Scriptura” means “Scripture alone” and those who broke with Catholicism on that basis therefore had an even BIGGER problem with the non-existence of Israel.
They were putting ALL their faith in the promises of a Book that made equally compelling promises to a people and a nation that hadn’t existed for fourteen hundred years — one that God had essentially abandoned.
Israel as a nation was as literal to Martin Luther or John Wesley as Shangra-La.But here are all these promises to a long-extinct people.
God can’t be wrong, so it must mean the Church. Who else could it possibly be referring to? There is no such thing as Israel and God certainly couldn’t be referring to the ghetto Jews of Europe as His Chosen People.
In this line of reasoning, the promises made to Israel couldn’t mean literal Israel or literal, unsaved Jews. Why would God restore them later, having already transferring their blessings to the Church?
It then follows that it could only be referring to spiritual Israel, which could only be the Church. It was the only explanation that made literal sense for seventeen hundred years.
Faith collided with human knowledge — and faith lost.
The challenge that Dispensationalism is a relatively new doctrine developed by C.I. Scofield, J.N. Darby, or that it was based on the visions of a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald is a fairly powerful one.
How is Dispensationalism any different than any other breakaway 19th century Christian cult?
But at the same time that mainstream scholarship began to question supersessionism, God had begun to work within His actual, real Chosen People, precisely as prophesied by the Prophet Ezekiel.
The Valley of Dry Bones began to come together, and the “problem” associated with prophecies to a non-existent Israel began to solve themselves.
Substituting the Church for Israel made a kind of sense when there was no Israel. Claiming the status of newly Chosen People made a kind of sense when the other claimants’ to the title were the scourge of Europe, forbidden to associate with good Christian people and confined to ghettos.
But when the world’s Jewish population began to come together as one nation and one people and flock back to the Land of Promise, the logic of a substitute Chosen People and a spiritualized Israel started to break down.
Why would God need a substitute Israel in addition to the literal one?
Why would He need a substitute Chosen People, drawn from the Gentile world, side by side with the real Chosen People drawn from world Jewry and located in the Land of Promise and actually named Israel?
It seems a stretch — when the obvious is so blinkin’ obvious. It baffles me. Why defend such a bitter and unsustainable doctrine?
Look at the effort that has gone into proving that the Jews of today aren’t really the Jews of antiquity, for example.
There are people that actually are willing to believe that a person who wasn’t a Jew would impersonate a Jew – that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.
Why would a non-Jew claim Jewish heritage? So that when Muslims aren’t trying to kill him for being a Jew, Christians are trying to kill him for being a Christ-killer?
Can it be something as childish as spiritual jealousy? Maybe a little bit – but that doesn’t explain how venomous the practitioners of replacement theology can get when challenged.
Replacement theology disguises an evil as something done for God.
“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)
It was born out of an institutionalized lack of faith in the clear prophecies of Scripture. The idea of a literal Israel populated by literal Jews was crazy talk for seventeen hundred years.
When the Land of Promise began to call out to the Jews, it threatened the whole structure of institutionalized Christianity.
It also ripped away any justification that organized, institutionalized Christianity could offer for its treatment of the Jews down through the ages.
A literal, Biblical Israel today means that the Jews murdered by the Church for not converting to Catholicism during the Inquisition were literal, Biblical Jews.
The Jews murdered by the followers of Luther were literal, Biblical Jews.
It means all the property looted from Jews down through the centuries was taken from literal, Biblical Jews.
The Jewish Holocaust was ignored, if not directly facilitated, by the Vatican and by all the large Protestant denominations.
The Roman Catholic Church created ‘ratlines’ through which the Vatican used its diplomatic status and its connections with primarily Catholic nations through which it resettled some of the worst mass murderers in the history of mankind and helped them escape justice.
That’s not Catholic-bashing – the truth is what the truth is.
It is well documented that German Bishop Alois Hudal in Rome operated postwar “Ratlines,” getting passports for wanted Nazis to allow them to escape justice.
Franz Stangl, commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, admitted to British Nazi expert Gitta Sereny that Hudal helped him get away after the Nazi defeat in 1945.
Franz Stangl was personally responsible for the deaths of 800,000 Jews at Treblinka.
The Vatican ratlines, which could not have operated without the knowledge of Pope Pius XII, helped Stangl escape to South America, along with Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews.
Josef Mengele, the notorious Angel of Death at Auschwitz, escaped through the Vatican ratlines. So did literally thousands of other wanted war criminals.
The Eichmann files are being suppressed because members of the German government were as deeply involved as the Vatican. Why would either the post-war Germans or the Catholic hierarchy want to protect Nazi war criminals?
The only logical reason is because it was consistent with supersessionist theology, which is; Jews are not the Chosen People, the Church is. Those who claim to be Jews are really just trying to steal the Church’s birthright.
The ratlines were set up to protect the defenders of the the faith.
It isn’t too much different that the Muslim claim that Jacob stole their birthright from Esau, as justification for the use of suicide bombers against Israeli school children. (Heck, it isn’t anydifferent.)
When it comes down to deciding which is the truth; Dispensationalism or Supersessionism, one need look no further than the fruits of each.
Truth doesn’t need justification.