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 Replacement Theology

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PostSubject: Replacement Theology   Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:00 am

What is Replacement Theology?

Replacement Theology is a term use for the doctrine saying that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s redemptive plans. It teaches that God has set aside Israel and made the Church as the “new Israel,” the new chosen children of God. There are many variations within the broad spectrum of Replacement Theology, but the main approach is this:

Israel’s role as the children of God was already fulfilled and Israelites are no longer can partake to the renewed covenant. The promise that God gave them in the Old Testament (Tanakh) have been claimed by the Church.

Other Replacement theologians are more straightforward and actually said that the supposed replacement of Israel was God’s judgment on the nation for its rejection of the Messiah. So they say that when Messiah came and has been rejected by his own Jewish brothers, Israel’s purpose has ended. A sudden changed and replacement occurred at that point, and the Church took over as the people of God and became the primary focus for the outworking of God’s redemptive plan of salvation. It suggests that God is no longer working administratively through Israel.


Historical Origin of Replacement Theology

Understanding how the Church eventually distance itself from the Hebrew roots of its faith will hopefully aid us in retracing the path back to the biblical perspective of God’s plan for His people.

There are many issues involved concerning why the Church turn so widely from the roots of its faith to arrive at the place where it hardly resembles from which it sprang.

First is Theological Issues:

The prevailing view of the Ancient Sages was that God had granted covenant membership to all who were born within Jewish families . Meaning to say, salvation was only possible for those who were Jewish, so Gentiles need to become a Proselyte Jew first, in order to be saved as stated in Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1. But this was never said in the Scriptures.

While for the Early Messianic believers, faith in the Messiah was the only means of becoming a member of God’s family (covenant) as stated in Acts 4:12, Acts 15:11 and Acts 16:31.

Due to this clashing theology between the Apostolic Teachings and the Rabbinical Teachings, two new religious organizations grew out of the Judaism. The Pharisees who believed in Talmud and Mishnah had fled Jerusalem to Yavneh and continued to study the commentaries of their Ancient Sages, while the Jewish followers who believe in Yeshua separated themselves to the mainstream Judaism and had fled to the mountains of Pella and also survived. From these two groups came two separate religions known as Rabbinic or Orthodox Judaism and the Sect of Nazarenes (Acts 24:5 ).

But this Sect of Nazarenes was Jewish and much of what they practiced centered around the synagogue and the Temple. If we will read Acts 2:46, Acts 3:1, Acts 5:19-21, Acts 13: 14, Acts 18:4-8, these passages will show and prove that Early Messianic believers (referred as the Christians by some Bibles) were all Jewish, Torah Keepers and Shabbat Observant and they never practice any of the religious rites that the Christians are practicing today.

Second is the Social and Political Issues:

This issue began to happen when the Romans took the city of Jerusalem and established Roman rule over the land. The Jews struggled under foreign jurisdiction which included the collection of high taxes known as the “Fiscus Judaicus” and the persecution and execution of any opposed to Roman laws.

But in 66 A.D., the Zealots seized their opportunity to revolt against Rome which lasted for four years. And after four years of fighting, the Romans finally conquered Israel under Roman general Titus. The Romans took Jerusalem, destroyed the city and Temple and killed hundreds of thousands of Orthodox and Messianic Jews.

Meanwhile, after the First Jewish Revolt, the Temple system along with the Zealot, Sadducee, Essenes, Qumran Sects and Messianic believers ceased to exist.

Then in 132 - 135 A.D., the Second Jewish Revolt occurred .At this time a it was led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Some of the Jewish rabbis of the day declared Bar Kokhba to be the Messiah. After several years, the Romans defeated the Jews. As a result, all Jews (regardless of their faith) were expelled from Jerusalem and Judea was renamed Palestine after the Philistines. This revolt brought a breaking point between the traditional Jews and some Messianic believers who had Yeshua of Nazareth as their Messiah. For them, if they will accept BarKokhba as the Messiah, it only means that they are denying the Messiahship of Yeshua and it was totally unacceptable.

Yet later on, the Romans discovered that Jews kept on secretly practicing their faith so they continued their persecution of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire.

Some Messianic believers decided to distance themselves from the Jewish ties for self preservation purposes. Eventually, as Gentile believers of Messiah grew in numbers of converts and influence within the Roman Empire, Messianic teachings, beliefs and concepts were merged with the Roman customs and became the state religion in the early part of the fourth century. By this time, Christianity and its church was born and had officially cut all ties with its Hebrew roots and had become a very different religious entity by creating their own doctrines known as the Replacement Theology.

Where did Replacement Theology originated?

Owing to the influence of Platonism in the early centuries of the Church between the 2nd and 5th centuries, the entire Scriptures was reshaped according to the belief that emphasized the importance of spiritual over physical reality. This shift in worldview profoundly impacted every area of theology, especially the doctrines concerning the nature of God, the Messiah, salvation, and the World to Come (Olam Haba). This concept, which holds that the spiritual is more important than the physical is called Dualism Theory.

Platonism was been adapted by the Church and became the core idea of their doctrines where they teach that Israel is a physical community of God while the Church is the spiritual, therefore it suggests that Church (spiritual) is higher than Israel (physical)!

Platonism has been affirmed and reinforced by another principle called Gnosticism that was also been adapted by the Church. It assumes that there are two separate entities in the universe; GOOD and EVIL -- which are equally powerful. Gnostics believe that all physical materials are evil while all spiritual things are good. So in “Christian” dualism, Church is spiritual and Israel is physical; Church represents the good community while Israel represents the evil community.

This only shows that there is no doubt that Platonism and Gnosticism in their various forms had a significant and lasting effect on Christian theology.

Examples of the displacement of biblical revelation by Greek philosophy can be seen in such figures as:

  • Marcion of Sinope who developed his own theology which rejected the deity described in the Old Testament (Tanakh) and called it inferior or subjugated to the God who became flesh proclaimed in the New Testament. He said that God of the Old Testament was evil, murderous and judgemental and his laws were evil, a burden and impossible to keep, while conversely Yeshua, the God of the New Testament was loving, merciful, peaceful and graceful and he came to free us from the old Mosaic law, contrary to what Yeshua said in John 10:30 and John 6:17


  • Clement of Alexandria who is regarded as one of the Church Fathers of Catholicism believed that the spiritual gnosis is the one that will lead people to freedom from sin and everlasting life rather than the visible (physical) obedience to God, contrary to what the Book of Revelation stated in 14:12, that people will be judged not according to what they know, but to our faith in Messiah and obedience to His Torah.


  • Origen who made a lot of teachings concerning supernatural spirituality such as soul evolution, soul transmigration, and reincarnation and rejected the biblical idea of physical resurrection as stated on Ezekiel 37:1-14.


  • Augustine who inspired the western church the practice of “spiritualized” (allegorical) interpretation of eschatological prophecy (end-time prophecy), with the goal to provide biblical support for the view that the kingdom of God is essentially spiritual and church-centered rather than Jewish-centered.


Over time, false doctrines like these became the basis for full-blown anti-Semitism in many sectors of Christianity. Anything Jewish was renounced as an attempt to subvert and wipe them out completely! The Early Messianic Communities, which was clearly and undeniably Jewish, was described as primitive, unenlightened, and surrounded by erroneous notions that were carry-overs from ancient Judaism.

By 325 A.D., Jewish people who came to faith in the Messiah were required to denounce their Jewish ancestry, heritage and practices before they could be accepted as believer of Messiah. This rule was been established during the Council of Nicea.

This assembly was convened by Constantine, Emperor of the Roman Empire. Constantine was a pagan worshipper of the “Sun God,” but eventually converted to Christianity due to the allegedly vision of his mother Queen Helena. During the assembly he made a creed where all believers of Messiah are required to abide.

The said creed is provided below:
Constantine Creed

“I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, purifications, sanctifications, and propitiations, and fasts and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants, and observances and synagogues. absolutely everything Jewish, every Law, rite and custom and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be an anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils.”

Furthermore, any follower of the “Jewish Messiah” (Yeshua HaMashiach) who wished to join this “holy community” was compelled to adopt a different set of rules and customs. Subsequently special creeds were drafted, to which the Christian would have to swear such as:

“I accept all customs, rites, legalism, and feasts of the Romans, sacrifices. Prayers, purifications with water, sanctifications by Pontificus Maxmus (high priests of Rome), propitiations, and feasts, and the New Sabbath “So! dei” (day of the Sun, ), all new chants and observances, and all the foods and drinks of the Romans. In other words, I absolutely accept everything Roman, every new law, rite and custom, of Rome, and the New Roman Religion.”

The said council with its theological anti-Judaism, laid the foundation for the anti-Semitic legislation and judgments of later Church councils. The Council of Antioch (341 CE) prohibited Messianic believers from celebrating Passover with the Jews. The Council of Laodicea in the same century forbade Jews from observing the Jewish customs and biblical Sabbath. (Prior to this time, early believers was somewhat divided, with some observing the Sabbath, some observing Sunday law, and some observing both!) “Believers” were also forbidden from receiving gifts from Jews or just eating with the Jews.

The irony here is that only a few centuries earlier, the Community of Early Believers of Messiah had been almost exclusively Jewish, as I said earlier! The Messiah is Jewish; the Scriptures they were reading are Jewish; the emissaries were Jewish; their practices, lifestyle, festivals and foods were Jewish; the first congregation was Jewish and it is located in Jerusalem; and the first missionaries were Jewish!

In fact, a council of emissaries and elders - including Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James convened at Jerusalem (Acts 15) so that the leaders of the new and growing Messianic Movement, could decide upon what terms and conditions should they implement so that Gentiles would be admitted into the fellowship. But here, within just a few generations, the shoe was already on the other foot! Gentiles with their pagan customs were in control of the Messianic believers now. Jewish customs and the earthly and physical Kingdom in particular were considered erroneous and even evil.


Exegetical Problems with Replacement Theology

No New Testament author suggested in any way that the Tanakh (Old Testament) and its covenant, prophecies and promises to the nation of Israel is already gone and neither did Yeshua!

The sins of Israel never result in their rejection as Paul’s answer in Romans 11:1-2:
"In that case, I say, isn't it that God has repudiated his people?" Heaven forbid! For I myself am a son of Isra'el, from the seed of Avraham, of the tribe of Binyamin. 2 God has not repudiated his people, whom he chose in advance…"

In Romans 11:11-12
"In that case, I say, isn't it that they have stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?" Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy. Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world - that is, if Isra'el's being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter - how much greater riches will Isra'el in its fullness bring them!"

And also in Romans 11:15
For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead!

If Israel has no future in God’s redemptive plan, as the Replacement Theologians claim, then what is the future “fullness” of Israel that Paul mentions in verse 12? And when, exactly, will the nation be resurrected and accepted by God in verse 15? Paul can’t be talking about the Church in this passage because even the Church never existed until 325 A.D., so it is quite understood that Paul will never ever mention the word church! The only reasonable answer is that Paul is referring to a yet-future resurrection and restoration of Israel, as prophesied that their fullness will come in the 2nd coming of the Messiah Yeshua where they will have no choice but acknowledge and believe that He indeed is the Promised Messiah and King of Israel wwill become the great blessing to the whole world.

But how about the Gentiles, how they will be saved?

They will be saved in the same way Israel has been saved.

In Romans 11:17-24, Paul wrote:
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you - a wild olive - were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. So you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don't be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you! So take a good look at God's kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God's kindness toward you - provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off! Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree!

The message of the passage above which is known to be the "Remnant Theology" indicates clearly that Gentiles must repent regarding their arrogant and anti-semetic attitude towards Jewish people and Israel and express gratitude to God that they have been included also in God's redemptive plan and consider the Jewish people as their future brethren.

By doing this, it means gentiles can partake with Israel’s promises and provisions, but it doesn’t mean they can replace Israel, for there is only one bride that Yeshua will claim in time and that is Israel as stated in the Book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31: 31-34
"Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. 33 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more."

And even in the ancient days, Adonai has already put the the gentiles in His redemptive plan as we see in this verse Exodus 12:49:
The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you.


Why Replacement Theology is dangerous?

It is really important to call attention to questionable theology like this, no matter how deeply rooted it may be in traditional Christianity because wtong theology always leads to wrong practice - and in this case, it already has! Replacement Theology has provided the basis for all sorts of mischief, persecution, defilement, and deception against the Jewish people throughout Christian history.

For example, Martin Luther, the father of the Protestantism, was also a replacement theologian. Near the end of his life, he said that synagogues and Jewish schools should be burned, Jewish people run out of their homes, their siddhurs (prayer books) and Torah scrolls burned, and the rabbis forbidden to teach on penalty of death.

No one is saying that anyone who believes or agrees in Replacement Theology is an anti-Semite. That would be an unfair description - and it certainly is not the case (since many Christians still consider themselves as lovers of Israel). But it is important to examine the implications and any position, including Replacement Theology: and the fact that ideas similar to those of Replacement Theologies have inspired some horrible outrage against the Jewish people.

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