What is replacement theology?
There is an attitude in much of the church today called ‘Replacement Theology’. This means that the adherents of this movement believe that God has moved his affection and choice from the Jews and turned to the church instead. Where the bible refers to ‘Jews’ or ‘Jerusalem’, the church, Christians or some similar spiritual interpretation must be substituted.
Some Christians are even offended when Jesus is said to be ‘a Jew’. They appear to believe the portrayal of Jesus as an Anglo-Saxon, as He appears in much of church art. Even Michael Angelo’s beautiful statue of David, which portrays him naked, shows no sign of the mark of Abraham, i.e. circumcision.
Through this legacy of denial, the Christian church has lost touch with its Jewish roots and many passages of the Bible become impossible to interpret or understand. Much of the depth of meaning of the Old Testament and the New Testament is lost. It is like trying to make sense of a stage play without any scenery and no explanation of who the characters are or how they are related.
Replacement theology rejects most of the Old Testament as irrelevant to the church. It is true that the ‘New Covenant’ in the blood of Jesus did replace the ‘Old Covenant’. In Hebrews 8, the writer shows how God says he has made “A new covenant.. He has made the first obsolete”. The covenant refers to an agreement between two parties; God and the children of Israel. The first covenant has been replaced but not the parties involved in the covenant.
In Romans 11, Paul uses the illustration of an olive tree to represent Israel. Some of the branches of this olive tree were broken off because of unbelief; representing the unbelieving Jews. Branches from a wild olive tree, representing the believing Gentiles, have been grafted into the natural olive tree. The believing Jews, because they are natural branches can be more easily grafted back in. Notice there is only ever one olive tree. God did not change His mind and discard the first olive tree representing Israel to plant another olive tree representing the church.
God’s vision and intention was always for one Kingdom of God made up of believers. One olive tree. The olive tree in New Testament times was predominantly Jewish. Today it is predominantly Gentile.
Replacement theology does a grave disservice to both the church and the Jews and God must be grieving over the state of the olive tree
I pray that understanding will grow within the church of the place of the Jews and Jerusalem in God’s action plan.