Translations

Lausanne Global Analysis

January 2015 · Volume 4 / Issue 1

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‘All of Me’

Engaging a world of poverty and injustice

allofme

This is an edited version of a Chapel talk given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, Massachusetts, USA) on 2 April 2014.

Historically our evangelical community sought the welfare of our neighbors, even when it required great sacrifice. Outsiders knew that our Christian fellowship was built for the benefit of the non-member. We took seriously the implications of Jesus’s ministry to the poor: dispensing biblical justice to the at-risk; creating whole institutions focused on those who were distressed and downtrodden, in prison, or insecure.

The legacy of evangelical mission includes the abolition of slavery, the Salvation Army, homes for orphans and the homeless, leprosy missions, ministries to the poor and prisoners, and even societies to protect animals from cruelty.

The Great Reversal

However, in the first part of the twentieth century, evangelicals associated the innovations of justice with a liberal brand of Protestantism that we thought put too much emphasis on human progress. We felt that personal faith and evangelism were in danger of being lost when put beside a spirituality that put weight on the reformation of sinful structures in society. Eventually, we could not help but place them in juxtaposition. According to Dr. Ted Engstrom, a long-time leader at World Vision, evangelicals felt strongly that our job was to populate heaven.

This came at a time when there was bold discovery in science and industrial technology, a time when humanity felt it could fix anything if they put their minds to it. Yet it was also a turbulent period, a time of world wars, global instability, and mass carnage. The twentieth century revealed that humans can create great things, but they can also unleash mass destruction, taking lives on a scale never before imagined.

During that era, evangelicals felt the world was spinning out of control, and to make sense of the global chaos, used Scripture for comfort and direction. You could hear it said: ‘We do not trust anything man-made to build the kingdom.’ My forbears, appropriately wary of humankind’s lack of ability to save itself, did not want their church to be tarnished with the liberal label. And so they largely dropped social engagement, in what has been called the Great Reversal.

This had unintended consequences as churches split over the theological shift, and in many places, our witness to the world was compromised. Evangelicals wanted to protect that which we held most dear, deeming it expedient to lessen the value of some biblical texts like the book of James, or verses on Christian unity or reconciliation, in view of our differences within the body of Christ. The holistic nature of our witness became less clear and in some cases completely lost.

The unintended consequence was corporate disunity in churches and divided fellowship in ministries. The worst part was that American evangelicals exported, in the words of theologian and social activist Ron Sider, a one-sided gospel thereby compromising our mission to the world. We often looked for a convert’s hand to be raised in registering saving faith, forgetting that there is a body behind it that might also need to be lifted up.

Rwanda

Twenty-five years ago the nation of Rwanda experienced numerous national crusades. Tens of thousands of hands were raised in revivals and evangelistic meetings. It was believed at that time, in somewhat conservative terms, that over 80% of the population of Rwanda had come to faith in Jesus.

However, 20 years ago, and in little over 100 days, over 800,000 people were slaughtered by their own countrymen in a genocidal frenzy of unparalleled proportion:

  • How could a nation so rich in converts to the faith not stave off the most brutal mass murder of its citizens in modern history? How could ethnicity trump spiritual identity and lead them into repudiating everything that their Christian formation stood for?
  • Could it be that they registered their faith with their heads and hearts, but left it unconnected to their fingers and toes? Is the sanctification process more than someone making a decision for Christ—is that just the beginning of the process?

Questions like these still demand an accounting in the global body of Christ. One of World Vision’s favorite verses are the words of Jesus as found in John 10:10: ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (NIV). Life in all of its fullness was Jesus’ mission.

At the turn of the twentieth century, a chasm opened between personal faith and the expression of that faith to the world. The deeds of our belief became de-linked from our words and faith commitments, and the result was an incomplete witness to the world. We are still dealing with the unintended consequences of that one-sided gospel.

AIDS

In the early 1980s, the U.S. Surgeon General noticed an abnormally large number of young men diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma, a rare form of cancer associated primarily with older men of Mediterranean origin. The affected populace hailed from the gay communities of San Francisco and New York and as such was involved in risky sexual behaviors.

The title given to these research findings was GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), a tag that only served to intensify homophobia. With the creation of a medical moniker, the devastation of a feared mysterious syndrome became yoked to the gay community, already held in contempt by many in the church. Medical researchers soon realized they had created a stigmatizing name and changed it to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Evangelicals, like the rest of the world, were somewhat ignorant of what AIDS was. What we did know was that we wanted nothing to do with this group of people who brought it.

Homosexuality confronted our deepest understanding of our sense of self, our own creation narrative, and the way we relate to others. The science on this issue was incomplete, so people questioned whether same-sex attraction was something that you were born with or whether it was motivated by outside behaviors. Evangelicals were clear on what the Bible said on this issue, but less so with how to deal with someone who exhibited same-sex attraction. How do we walk alongside them, if we even walk alongside them at all? Flight or fight is usually what we do when we are afraid of something.

Those who remember this period have to admit to mismanaging this subject in a serious way. Some evangelicals, in our confusion and sloppy exegesis, tried to make spiritual sense out of the HIV infection by calling it God’s punishment for sinful behavior—in a phrase: you play, you pay. Our faith’s profession to love our neighbor, even our enemies, found an exception. We again delinked word and deed.

Compassion deficit

Thirteen years ago, World Vision launched a national advocacy campaign on AIDS in 18 major cities. It was a simple decision in that our own global community development work was being devastated, as we watched HIV gut communities of their heavy lifters—those in their 20s and 30s—leaving in its wake small children and the aged to sustain communal life. It was deemed an emergency decision to raise awareness so that the public, especially those in the faith community, could understand the difference between a virus and the people it inhabited; that we should fight the virus and love the person.

In gearing up for the campaign, World Vision conducted a national survey including a telling question to which the responses nearly stopped us in our tracks. The question went something like this: An organization asks you to give to a child who has been orphaned due to AIDS. Would you a) definitely give, b) probably give, c) probably not give, or d) definitely not give?

  • 7% of those deemed to have no religious affiliation of any kind said that they would definitely give to an organization that is caring for children who are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
  • The percentage of those who considered themselves born again that would definitely give was 3%.

In short, a little over a decade ago, conservative Christian compassion toward those impacted by AIDS registered less than half that of their secular counterparts, all because of a virus’s connection to a community we did not love or understand. What is more devastating is that we exported the stigma we related to a certain community here to those who had HIV in other parts of the world.

In Africa, a Pentecostal pastor led a World Vision Channels of Hope meeting, training ordinary community members who want to volunteer in care of those affected and infected by HIV. He said of his former attitude toward AIDS: ‘I used to preach if you have that disease (AIDS) in my church, I want you out of here. You got it because of sin, and you are making God angry and I want you out of here right now!’ A leader from America asked what happened to his church when he said this. He replied: ‘We lost all of the women. Many of them got HIV/AIDS on their wedding night. They were faithful to their wedding vows.’

AIDS and morality 

AIDS is no respecter of persons. AIDS then and now rages in communities beset by poverty and wealth. It often intensifies around tainted transfusions, casual sex, extramarital affairs, and infected drug needles. However, it then blows out into the ‘moral’ populace: it burns through the purity of marital pledges; it finds its way over the ramparts built by communities and churches.

I have been numerous times in communities that registered an over 30% HIV infection rate.

What do you do with that as a follower of Jesus? Not that long ago they cried out in need, but we were not listening. We were holding to our theological construct that divine justice was being served. At the end of the past century, AIDS had become the biggest orphan and widow creator in history, so that death tolls reached more than 8,000 daily.

All the while a large part of the church sat idle, unwilling to exhibit what James 1:27 says is true religion: ‘taking care of orphans and widows in their distress.’ Paul asks in his letter to the Romans: ‘What can separate us from the love of Christ?’ Back then we would have said ‘AIDS.’

Palestine

As apartheid came to an end in South Africa, one of our World Vision operatives involved with the struggle for freedom asked Bishop Desmond Tutu what more he could do. Tutu replied that he should go to Palestine. We took the Bishop’s advice and World Vision has been active in Palestine for the better part of 30 years, growing to become one of the largest organizations there.

Yet, for over 60 years, many evangelicals have clung to a very narrow theological narrative that weds Christian theology with a political ideology known as Zionism. This is a national movement to return Jews to Israel, which Jews perceive as their sovereign homeland. Evangelicals have used this theology in affirming biblical Israel as being the equivalent to the present political entity bearing the same name, with all of the rights, privileges, and promises directly conferred.1

Christian Zionists have tied what they have seen in numerous military victories and in the massive social work that is taking place to certain Bible verses, all to affirm the full circle of prophetic expression. To them, the strength of the nation of present-day Israel underlines the strength of our own Christian faith, as though it is an expression or a direct link. They have become so tied to these theological interpretations that they have labeled any critical comment against the nation-state as antithetical to Christian belief and even anti-Jewish.

This theological position has backed the largest and longest occupation of another people group in modern history, an oppressive Israeli legal system which Tutu and many other church leaders have called ‘apartheid on steroids’.

Justice and peace for all

In this context, what does justice and peace for all mean? What does is it mean when there is obvious economic and political disparity?

According to a 2009 report by Amnesty International, Palestinians on average get 70 liters of water per day, well below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 100 liters per day. In contrast, Israelis get 300 liters per day, and in settlements that figure escalates to 350 liters.

It should challenge people when they hear the average income (GDP per capita in 2010) for an Israeli is $26,000, but for a Palestinian it is around $2,100.

This is not a one-sided issue: the church needs to deal with the injustices found on both sides. Everyone, Palestinian and Israeli, should have the benefits of a life lived in safety and freedom. And so we need to challenge any party in this present conflict that promotes either violent reprisals or an apathetic response. As followers of the Prince of Peace, our means of confronting conflict are conditioned by the life and teaching of Jesus himself.

In part because this has not been our unified message or method as a church, we are presently experiencing the unintended consequence of a Palestinian church that used to be nearly 20% of the population, but is now hovers at a little over 1%, primarily due to the socio-economic impact of the present Israeli occupation. As one church leader told us: ‘We have felt abandoned by the global church. I don’t see a future.’

Conclusion

The litany of attempts to protect God in our theology is not branded Made in the USA or confined to our country’s timeline or borders. It was ill-conceived theology that launched the ships of the Spanish Inquisition and the legions of religious purifiers known as the Crusaders. Evangelism by the sword makes it hard to have conversations with Muslims or other unbelievers aware of this history. Even in the last century, amidst the horrors of apartheid in South Africa, many who voted to restrict the rights of the blacks were pillars in their church communities.

These consequences happen when we are tied to a particular theology that supersedes our call to love.

If I speak with the tongues of men or angels but I do not have love, then I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and I have faith that can move mountains, and I do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardships that I may boast, but I do not have love, I gain nothing. – I Corinthians 13:1-3

What is your theology? It is not stale coursework in which if you gain enough of it you are guaranteed to get a book-lined office and mix with nice moral people. That is not what theology is or does.

The gospel that infuses the body of Christ is about the restoration of broken relationships. It is broken relationships that make poverty possible. Poverty is a broken relationship with God, with my neighbor, with the earth, and the broken places inside me.

Our task as the followers of the true healer is to help mend these fissures we find in life. Without this understanding we easily become purveyors of I’m here and you’re over there. The truth is that because I am broken, through my wounds I get to heal somebody else who also, in some strange way, begins to heal me as well. Jesus said that because of the injury and death he experienced, he could heal us. In humility we follow his lead and offer ourselves as his agents in sacrificial love.

Faith and social action

Despite a history of mind-numbing theological dysfunction, the hallmark values of love, repentance, reconciliation, and passionate engagement still remain. In the last 25 years, we have seen evangelicals beginning to integrate personal faith and social action in ways that help people better understand who Jesus is. Stories are being told of reversing the Great Reversal and the demonstration of the holistic nature of the gospel message.

This change in attitude has already begun to show itself—witness the evangelical church’s nearly complete change of heart on the issue of HIV and AIDS. Promulgated by an awakened faith community, the U.S. government led by President George W. Bush initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), at its height guaranteeing $50 billion for those affected by the disease. The government took action because the church began to speak out. The AIDS infection rate, the death rate, abject poverty, human trafficking, and malaria are being impacted because the church is beginning to arise.

What about Palestine? As peacemakers we have been tasked by a justice agenda of love and sacrifice. I truly believe we can be pro-Palestinian, pro-Israeli, and pro-justice because we are adamantly pro-Jesus. We have arrived at a point in history in which this question could not be more pertinent.

It is a kairos moment for the church, and you are the ones who will lead us into it. What is your theology of social engagement, of the proclamation of the gospel as it deals with issues and places like AIDS or Palestine? Make it your life’s work to respond to these questions, because our theology is going to force you to give an answer.

The opinions expressed in this article do not represent the views or policies of World Vision. World Vision also published a response to comments they have received about this article.

Endnotes

1Editor’s Note: See article entitled ‘Christ at the Checkpoint: An evangelical shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ by Munther Isaac and Alice Su in the May 2014 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.

* Editor’s Note: Cover image is a derivative of ‘Homeless by a Wall’ by Garry Knight (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Steve Haas serves as the Vice President and Chief Catalyst for World Vision US. Steve has had a varied career of leadership posts from The Trinity Forum, to Prayer for the Persecuted Church, to the megachurch Willow Creek. Steve is a graduate of Fuller Seminary and lives near Seattle, Washington.

14 Jan 2015

Lausanne Global Analysis

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  • PickledOnion

    Aids, Rwanda & Palestine. The three most pressing issues in the Lassagne Movement’s mindset.

    Not Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram, Al-Shebab, The Taliban, Al-Q, IS or a multitude of other groups who want to return us to the 7th century and rid the world of non-Muslims in the process?

    Not the Syrian civil war?
    Not the worse excess of HR abuses in Iran and Saudi Arabia?
    Or North Korea?

    Nope. Their one pet project is Palestine and the so-called suffering of the so-called Palestinians (who were simply Arabs prior to 67).

    It seems that Mr Hass could do with some corrective eye surgery from his own organisation as he’s got the islamist infection stuck in both of them

  • jaunita

    Excellent message. I wanted to weep to see someone (or organization) finally speak out and report the truth concerning the Palestinians. So many of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord only receive information about one side of this issue…they also do not realize we have Palestinian brethren who need our support and prayers. God bless you for “speaking” the truth.

    • tigersfan61

      There is no such thing as a “palestinian”…The Romans called Israel “Palestine” just to tick off the Jews after the conquest…The name of the land is Israel as that is what God calls it…the homeland for HIS children, HIS chosen people…a thorough reading of Ezekiel will show that the nation of Israel will return first and the Spiritual aspect will come second…but hey let’s not let Biblical truth get in the way of the desire to make Israel out to be the bogey man…Israel has been under attack since the May 14, 1948 when she was declared to be a nation in one day in direct fulfillment of Isaiah 66…you people are quite funny…

      • MarciaX

        Yes, the term “Palestinian” is a somewhat imprecise shorthand for a complex modern-day reality, I’ll grant that. But harping on this rather trivial point obscures the real issue of justice for everyone who lives in that land (a land which, it should be noted, was promised to *all* the children of Abraham, not just those of Isaac). The current Israeli government is making no real effort to change the profoundly unjust status quo — in fact they are reinforcing it daily with the continual building of physical barricades and Jewish-only roads and “settlements.” Israel needs to make a formal declaration of exactly where its borders are like every other country on earth, and if those borders include the West Bank it needs to take down the barriers, take a long deep breath, and begin the admittedly difficult and risk-taking process of making full citizens of the people who live there. If Israel’s borders don’t include the West Bank, Israel needs to devote itself wholeheartedly to a two-state solution. This may be a long and difficult task, but Israel as the far stronger party needs to start doing it. The obvious first step is to unilaterally and permanently stop building new settlements. There’s no excuse or justification for current Israeli policy in this area.

        • tigersfan61

          Think about this…Arabs who live in Israel have more freedom than any other Middle Eastern country with some even serving in Parliament so the idea that they are being treated poorly is ludicrous… The ones who are being treated “poorly” are a result of terrorist leadership who use human shields as they strike Israel with suicide bombers and the like…Israel is the ONLY democracy in the Middle East and all the lefty’s take everyone else’s side…hmmmn

          • MarciaX

            Again with the straw men {sigh}. Yes, Arab citizens of Israel do have some degree of privilege, relatively speaking. No one disputes that. But no amount of anti-Israel terrorism justifies continued settlement-building in occupied territory. It’s a needless provocation to further violence that Israel could end today, with no increased threat to its security whatsoever. Unfortunately, the continuation of a certain level of anti-Israeli violence (or the continued threat of same) is too useful to the current Israeli leadership’s political ambitions for them to do that.

          • tigersfan61

            Speaking of “straw man”…Occupied territory…Blah, Blah, Blah…The Land belongs to Israel as God decreed many years ago…Period…

          • jaunita

            The land has always “belonged” to God. Those who were permitted to live upon it were tenants. Landowners have conditions which the tenants must abide by in order to remain on the owner’s land. In this case, the tenants did not abide by those conditions laid down by God. period.

          • tigersfan61

            Well obviously the land “belongs” to God…the whole universe belongs to God…He has given the land to Israel and the book of Isaiah shows us in chapter 66 that the nation would be built in one day and that happened on May 14, 1948 as Israel was declared a nation in one day by the U.N. Also the Prophet Ezekiel predicted that the Jews would one day return to the land…the land is to be occupied by the Jews as God has stated over and over again, liberal opinion not withstanding…

          • Ezekiel did indeed predict that Jews would one day return to the land. Ezekiel lived and prophesied before and after Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC and the Babylonian captivity. In 539 BC Medo-Persia defeated Babylon, and soon Cyrus of Persia allowed thousands of Jews to return to the land, led by Ezra and Nehemiah. It’s a mystery why some today want to insist that Ezekiel wasn’t talking about THAT return, but instead he allegedly spoke of a return 2600 years later.

            Church leaders, scholars, and teachers have long held, rightfully so, that Isaiah 66 was a prophecy of the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The apostle Paul in Galatians 4 quotes from Isaiah 54, which is parallel to Isaiah 66, in such a way that it’s clear Isaiah was speaking of the downfall of earthly Jerusalem (70 AD) and God’s choosing of the heavenly Jerusalem (Isaiah 65-66, Galatians 4, Hebrews 12, Revelation 21-22). This is developed in more detail in the following article:

            http://kloposmasm.com/2014/04/18/galatians-4-shows-that-isaiah-66-is-not-about-modern-israel/

          • tigersfan61

            I guess we will just have to agree to disagree…I don’t see how you back up your statement by referring me to your own blog…

        • tigersfan61

          By the way…the land was promised to the “seed” of Abraham through the chosen line…Isaac, Jacob and then his twelve sons…note that Ishmael and Esau are excluded…check your scriptures again…

          • Gentlewarrior

            Did anyone tell you that the seed of Abraham was Christ the Lord and not Israel?

            NAU Galatians 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”

            The “Land” was nothing but a type and a shadow of a greater land. This “land” has always been a heavenly land or Paradise. Paradise is simply a projection of a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells (2Pe 3:13)

            Heb 11:8-10 8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

            I believe most Christians haven’t seen the whole picture yet. God chose Israel because He wanted to choose the entire world. He needed to start somewhere but the end in sight was always the whole of His creation. John 3:16 speaks of how much God loved the world.

            The calling of Abraham was in fact the first step to undo the sin of Adam. I would recommend to read the first chapter of Ephesians and read who are the real chosen ones. Remember though that the preposition “in” is of vast importance in this precious book because that word alone can define the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            As for the Israel of today, I would say that a large percentage are secular, while the rest are religious with no point of reference to the Lord of glory.

            Second, the scriptures are very clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). This is why Abraham was never called the father of Israel, but the father of MANY NATIONS. It is also very interesting to say the least that those who are OF FAITH are called sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7)

            Lastly, even Paul said those who belong to Christ are the true descendants of Abraham (See Gal 3:29). It is then the church, the body of Messiah who are the sons of God who are the heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ, not Israel (Ro 8:17)

            🙂

          • tigersfan61

            I know that the seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ…your argument has a name: replacement theology…The Church does not replace Israel…why?

            1. The Old Testament explicitly teaches the restoration
            of the nation Israel.

            a. Deuteronomy 30:1-6: Israel would experience dispersion
            because of disobedience but would one day be saved as a nation and experience
            restoration to its land.

            b. Jeremiah 30, 31, and 33: This prediction of the New
            Covenant promises a restoration of Israel that includes spiritual blessings and
            physical blessings.

            c. Ezekiel 36–37 This passage promises the future salvation
            and restoration of the nation Israel to its land.

            d. Amos 9:11-15

            e. Zephaniah 3:14-20

            f. Zechariah 12–14

            g. NOTE 1: Even if the NT never discussed the restoration of
            Israel, the many explicit texts about Israel’s restoration in the OT give
            enough reason to believe in the restoration of Israel.

            h. NOTE 2: Since the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18-21) and
            New Covenants (Jer. 31) are eternal and unconditional covenants we should
            expect God to fulfill these covenants with Israel, the people with whom the
            covenants were made. John Murray is correct that Israel’s restoration is linked
            to the covenants of the Old Testament: “Thus the effect is that the future
            restoration of Israel is certified by nothing less than the certainty belonging
            to covenantal institution.”

            2. The Old Testament explicitly promises the perpetuity
            of the nation Israel (see Jer. 31:35-37).

            “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by
            day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who
            stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:
            “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD,
            “Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before
            Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be
            measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also
            cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,”
            declares the LORD” (Jer. 31:35-37).

            Have you seen the sun, moon or stars today? If so, you can
            know that the nation Israel still has a place in God’s plan.

            3. The New Testament reaffirms the Old Testament
            expectation of a salvation and restoration of Israel.

            a. Matthew 19:28 — Apostles to rule over 12 tribes of
            Israel.

            According to E. P. Sanders, Matt 19:28 “confirms the
            view that Jesus looked for the restoration of Israel.”

            b. Matthew 23:37-39 / Luke 13:34-35– Israel one day will
            accept her Messiah. Donald Senior states, “In Matthew’s perspective, the
            rejection of Jesus by the leaders is indeed a grave sin, one that brings divine
            judgment. Yet the story of God’s relationship to Israel is not concluded, and
            the day will come when Jerusalem will again receive its Messiah with shouts of
            praise.”

            c. Luke 21:24– Times of the gentiles will come to an end.
            J. Bradley Chance states, “Close examination of L. 21:24b,c provides a
            strong hint that Luke did foresee the restoration of Jerusalem.”

            d. Luke 22:30– Apostles to rule over the 12 tribes of
            Israel.

            e. Acts 1:3-7– Apostles believed in a restoration of the
            nation Israel after 40 days of kingdom instruction from Jesus. Scot McKnight
            states: “Since Jesus was such a good teacher, we have every right to think
            that the impulsive hopes of his audience were on target. This is not to say
            that they, at times, drew incorrect references or came to inaccurate
            conclusions about time or about content, but it is to admit that Jesus believed
            in an imminent realization of the kingdom to restore Israel and that he taught
            this with clarity.”

            f. Acts 3:19-21 — Restoration is preached to the leaders of
            Israel.

            g. Romans 11:26-27– Salvation of “all Israel”
            will occur in accordance with the New Covenant promises given to Israel in the
            Old Testament.

            i. C.E.B. Cranfield: “It is only where the Church
            persists in refusing to learn this message, where it secretly-perhaps quite
            unconsciously-believes that its own existence is based on human achievement,
            and so fails to understand God’s mercy to itself, that it is unable to believe
            in God’s mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so entertains the ugly and
            unscriptural notion that God has cast off His people Israel and simply replaced
            it by the Christian Church. These three chapters [Rom. 9-11] emphatically
            forbid us to speak of the Church as having once and for all taken the place of
            the Jewish people.”

            ii. Jonathan Edwards: “Nothing is more certainly
            foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11.”

            iii. In his comments on Rom 11:26–27, Ernst Käsemann rightly
            states that “Christianity is already living in the new covenant”
            while “Israel will begin to do so only at the parousia.”

            4. The New Testament explicitly states that the Old
            Testament promises and covenants to Israel are still the possession of Israel
            even during this church age and even while the nation is currently in a state
            of unbelief (see Romans 9:3b-4).

            “my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites,
            to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the
            giving of the Law and the temple service and the
            promises” (Rom. 9:3b-4).

            5. The New Testament indicates that God is faithful to
            Israel because of His promises to the patriarchs of Israel (Romans 11:28).

            From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your
            sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved
            for the sake of the fathers (Rom.11:28).

            6. The New Testament indicates that Israel’s
            election/calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29; see also Deuteronomy
            7:6-8).

            for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable
            (Rom. 11:29).

            a. Jürgen Moltmann: “There can be no question of God’s
            having finally rejected the people of his choice—he would then have to reject
            his own election (11.29)—and of his then having sought out instead another
            people, the church. Israel’s promises remain Israel’s promises. They have not
            been transferred to the church. Nor does the church push Israel out of its
            place in the divine history. In the perspective of the gospel, Israel has by no
            means become ‘like all the nations.’”

            b. Wolfhart Pannenberg: “How could Christians be
            certain of their own comparatively new membership in the circle of God’s elect
            if God for his part did not remain faithful to his election in spite of
            Israel’s unbelief? This is the apostle’s point when he advocates the
            inviolability of the election of the Jewish people (11:29; cf. 9:6). He has in
            mind also Christian assurance of election.”

            c. The more one believes in the sovereignty of God
            especially as it relates to election, the more one should be committed to a
            salvation/restoration of Israel based on God’s election of this people.

            7. The New Testament never uses the term
            “Israel” for those who are not ethnic Jews. Thus, the church is never
            called “Israel.”

            a. The title “Israel” is used seventy-three times
            and always refers to ethnic Jews: The vast majority refer to national, ethnic
            Israel. A few refer specifically to Jewish believers who are ethnic Jews.

            b. The New Testament still consistently refers to national
            Israel as “Israel” even after the establishment of the church (Acts
            3:12; 4:10; 5:21, 31, 35; 21:28).

            c. The book of Acts maintains a distinction between Israel
            and the church. In Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously.
            “Israel” is used twenty times and ekklesia (church)
            nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct.

            8. Supersessionists have failed to show that the New
            Testament identifies the church as “Israel.”

            a. Romans 9:6 – Believing Jews are those who are the true
            spiritual Israel. As William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam state: “But St.
            Paul does not mean here to distinguish a spiritual Israel (i.e. the Christian
            Church) from the fleshly Israel, but to state that the promises made to Israel
            might be fulfilled even if some of his descendants were shut out from them.
            What he states is that not all the physical descendants of Jacob are
            necessarily inheritors of the Divine promises implied in the sacred name
            Israel.”

            b. Galatians 6:16 – Paul is referring to Christian Jews in
            his reference to the “Israel of God.” Paul scolded the Judaizers who
            said circumcision was necessary for salvation, but he acknowledges those Jews
            in Galatia who had not followed the Judaizers in their error. These Christian
            Jews are the true “Israel of God.” Ronald E. Diprose: “Galatians
            6:16 is insufficient grounds on which to base an innovative theological concept
            such as understanding the Church to be the new and/or true Israel.”

            c. Romans 11:26 – There is very little chance that
            “Israel” here refers to the church, something even many
            supersessionists acknowledge. Like the other ten references to
            “Israel” in Romans 9–11, Israel in 11:26 refers to ethnic Israel.

            9. Supersessionists have failed to show that the New
            Testament reinterprets or alters the original OT prophecies in regard to
            Israel. The alleged “NT Priority” approach of Supersessionism is
            really ‘structural supersessionism’—a hermeneutic that does not allow the OT
            passages to speak to the issues they address.

            a. How can the NT reinterpret or alter the OT expectation
            for Israel when the NT actually reaffirms the OT expectation? (see point #3
            above).

            b. Hebrews 8:8-13 and Jeremiah 31:

            i. The Old Testament never indicated that the New Covenant
            would only be for the nation Israel. Isaiah uses the New
            Covenant concept of “sprinkling” in regard to salvation in Isaiah
            52:15.

            ii. Paul quotes New Covenant passages in Romans 11:27 to
            show that the nation Israel will be saved (see Rom. 11:26). Thus, even after
            the church began Paul sees Israel as still related to the New Covenant.

            iii. The purpose of Hebrews 8 is not to address the issue of
            who is and is not the people of God. Hebrews 8 is directly addressing the
            superiority of the New Covenant over the Mosaic Covenant, not whether the
            church is now the true Israel.

            iv. Only the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant are
            mentioned in Hebrews 8:8-13. If the New Covenant were being fulfilled in its
            entirety we should expect the physical blessings of the New Covenant to be
            mentioned as being fulfilled with the church. The New Testament never links the
            church with the physical blessings of the New Covenant.

            v. It is best to conclude that the church is participating
            in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant while the full eschatological
            fulfillment of the New Covenant will take place with Israel in the millennium.

            c. Acts 15:13-18 and Amos 9:11-15

            i. The main point of the quotation of Amos 9 in Acts 15 is
            to show that Gentiles becoming the people of God is consistent with or agrees
            with what the OT prophets like Amos predicted. It is not discussing the
            complete fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom or calling the church Israel.

            ii. Discussion of Israel’s place in the plan of God is not
            even the focus of Acts 15.

            iii. Acts 15 says “agree” not “fulfill.”

            iv. William D. Barrick: “Note, first of all, that James
            never says that Amos 9 is ‘fulfilled.’ Secondly, James’ reasoning is that the
            Gospel should continue to go out to the Gentiles because God included them in
            his redemptive plan according to Amos 9. Amos 9 mentions Gentiles as recipients
            of God’s kingdom blessings, so how could the early church ever take action to
            exclude them?”

            10. Supersessionists have failed to show that unity
            between Jews and Gentiles in the church rules out a future restoration of the
            nation Israel.

            a. Ephesians 2:11–22 shows that Gentiles who used to be far
            from God have now been brought near God because of Christ. Thus, the
            soteriological status of believing Gentiles has changed. They now share with
            Israel in Israel’s covenants and promises but they do not become Israel.

            b. Believing Gentiles cannot be incorporated into Israel
            because Paul says they are now part of a new structure—the new man.

            c. Howard Taylor: “Superficial logic has continued to
            argue that there is no more uniqueness for the Jew and physical Israel. Since
            it is said Christ has broken down the barrier between Jew and Gentile [Eph.
            2:11–18], Israel’s election is finished. But this is not the logic of the New
            Testament. Although there is only one way of salvation for both Jew and
            Gentile, the New Testament teaches that the Jewish people do still have a
            unique place in thehistorical working out of God’s redemption of
            the world in Christ.

            d. Rom 11:17–24 stresses that Gentiles are now related to
            the promises of God. Thus, there is a soteriological unity between believing
            Jews and Gentiles. But it does not indicate that the church is now the true
            Israel. There is a difference between saying that Gentiles participate with
            Israel in Israel’s covenants and claiming that believing Gentiles become
            Israel. Gentiles are partakers of the covenants not takerovers. This passage
            does not rule out a future role for national Israel or indicate that the church
            is now Israel.

            11. Israelite language applied to believing Gentiles does
            not mean the church is Israel.

            a. 1 Peter 2:9–10 and Romans 9:24-26 – Yes, language used of
            Israel in the Old Testament is used of believing Gentiles in the New Testament. But
            similarity with Israel does not mean identification with Israel. There
            are occasions in Scripture when “Israel” imagery is applied to
            non-Israelites without these non-Israelites becoming Israel. Isa 19:24–25, for
            instance, predicts that Egypt would someday be called “my people.” Yet,
            the context makes clear that Egypt is distinct from Israel since Egypt is
            mentioned alongside “Israel my inheritance.” So, even in the Old
            Testament it was predicted that non-Israelites would someday carry some of the
            titles of Israel without becoming identified as Israel.

            b. J. Ramsey Michaels says, “Nowhere in 1 Peter are the
            readers addressed as a new Israel or a new people
            of God, as if to displace the Jewish community.”

            c. Galatians 3:7, 29 The New Testament teaches that
            believing Gentiles are the seed of Abraham but this does not mean that
            believing Gentiles are Israel. The concept of “seed of Abraham” is
            used in several different ways in the New Testament. First, it can refer to
            those who are biological descendants of Abraham. Second, it can refer to the
            Messiah, who is the unique individual seed of Abraham. Third, it can refer to
            the righteous remnant of Israel (cf. Isa 41:8 with Rom 9:6). Fourth, it can be
            used in a spiritual sense for believing Jews and Gentiles (Gal 3:29). John
            Feinberg states, “no sense (spiritual especially) is more important than
            any other, and that no sense cancels out the meaning and implications of the
            other senses.” Thus, the application of the titles “sons of
            Abraham” or “seed of Abraham” to believing Gentiles does not mean
            that believing Gentiles are spiritual Jews or part of Israel.

            d. Galatians 3:7-8 links the Gentiles being “sons of
            Abraham” with the part of the Abrahamic Covenant that predicted that
            “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”

            12. New Testament prophecy refers to Israel, thus
            indicating that God’s plan for Israel is alive.

            a. Revelation 7:4-8 – all the tribes of Israel are
            mentioned.

            b. Matthew 24:15ff.

            i. The abomination of desolation is clearly related to the
            Jewish temple.

            ii. Jesus tells the residence of Israel what to do in the
            Tribulation Period.

            c. Paul refers to the temple in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

            d. If the church is now Israel why do NT prophecies refer to
            ethnic Israel?

          • Gentlewarrior

            You said, “I know that the seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ…your argument has a name: replacement theology…The Church does not replace Israel…why?”

            I would appreciate if you don’t look for labels to attach to those who disagree with you. I don’t believe in Replacement Theology, never did and never will. That’s just a straw man argument to distract it from the real issue here.

            I never said the church replaced Israel. You assumed that because I said the church was God’s end time plan of the ages. Israel was swallowed up in Christ because the entire bible from Genesis 1 to Rev 22 points to Christ and Christ alone. We know that in the book of Acts each Jew had to make a decision whether to believe in the gospel or to reject the God of Israel forever. Those Jews who believed entered into life and became part of the body of Christ.

            Why should it be different today? It has been this way from the birth of the church until today. I has never changed and it never will.

            A true Jew is someone who believes and confesses Jesus Christ. A believer in Jesus regardless of his ethnicity is in fact a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the church who became the Holy of Holies. It is the church who are heirs of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ. And the church from Acts 10 on was always composed of Jews and Gentiles.

            By the way, those who do not have the Holy Spirit do not belong to the Lord (Ro 8:9). That verse should be sufficient to disregard the entire nation of israel with the exception of the remnant who is now part of the church, like it or not.

            Do you happen to subscribe that the entire nation of Israel without Christ are saved because God cooked the books to let them all in without being washed in the blood of the Lamb? Just wondering…

            Perhaps you need to read your bible more and pay less attention to the Christian Zionists of today who are more than willing to give their son- ship and their “chose-ness” to a people who couldn’t care less about Christ the Lord.

            NAU Romans 9:6-8 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”

            8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”

            It is the church who is the chosen of God in Christ, not a fleshly nation who have no faith and no desire to belong to the Lord.

            Again, anyone who does not have faith in Christ has already been cut off from the Lord and His promises. Actually, they are very dead in their sins and trespasses according to the course of this world (Eph 2:1-2). But those who come to Christ by faith are born again from the Spirit.

            It happened at the beginning and it will continue to be that way until the end of the ages.

            NAU Hebrews 3:19 “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”

            Do you believe the word of God is true?

            Lastly, the Israel of today is not the same as the Israel of the OT. The covenant that they had with the Lord is now obsolete and gone forever (Heb 8:13). The new covenant has come and has been ratified in the blood of Jesus.

            God has always dealt with the world through faith and faith alone. Please do not give credit to a secular nation that has no covenant with God, no promises and no relationship. They are without Christ and will be lost forever if they continue in their unbelief. The best you can do is preach the gospel to them without fear. Those who believe will instantly become part of the body of Christ, like it or not.

            You said, and I quote:

            “NOTE 2: Since the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18-21) and
            New Covenants (Jer. 31) are eternal and unconditional covenants we should
            expect God to fulfill these covenants with Israel, the people with whom the
            covenants were made. John Murray is correct that Israel’s restoration is linked
            to the covenants of the Old Testament: “Thus the effect is that the future
            restoration of Israel is certified by nothing less than the certainty belonging
            to covenantal institution.”

            My friend the Abrahamic covenant had in mind all the nations of the world. Abraham was chosen in order for God to initiate the salvation of all mankind.

            NAU Genesis 12:3 “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

            You confuse the promises of God to a nation that had its fulfillment in Messiah. He is the last Israelite who sent His own disciples to preach the gospel to the entire world!

            I have said enough. Your comments are too extensive to respond paragraph by paragraph. Sorry.

          • tigersfan61

            I believe that everyone must come to God through Faith…The Old Testament saints by faith in the promised Messiah and everyone Post Cross in the actual Messiah who died for our sins that we might be redeemed to include Gentiles and Jews…I also believe that God will restore the Jews physically to the Land (May 14, 1948) BEFORE the Spiritual restoration…

          • Good responses, Gentlewarrior. I appreciate your input here. By the way, that last long comment you were responding to wasn’t tigersfan61’s own thoughts. He or she copied and pasted from this source without giving credit to it:

            http://www.theologicalstudies.org/resource-library/supersessionism/327-12-reasons-why-supersessionism-replacement-theology-is-not-a-biblical-doctrine

          • Gentlewarrior

            Thanks Adam. It is hard to keep up. I will look into the link you provided. 🙂

      • Since you’re insisting that Israel is the homeland of God’s chosen people, would you say Israel is large enough to accommodate the majority of God’s chosen people if we decided to move there – Christians from Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Russia, etc.? God’s chosen people are described in this way in the New Testament – belonging to Jesus:

        “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

        “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being chosen according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

        “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

        • tigersfan61

          I can quote verses too but where will that get us? Nowhere…You will not convince me that you are “right” nor will I convince you…So we will just have to agree to disagree…

          • jaunita

            If God’s Word cannot convince you then you are correct: nothing will.

          • tigersfan61

            You can say the same to Adam and I could say the same for you…I AM convinced by the Word of God but my belief in what God’s Word says is different than what Adam believes…your comment is not even germane…

          • jaunita

            That is where you are wrong. The only issue which is relevant, is God’s Word, not anyone’s personal, private, interpretation.

          • tigersfan61

            You are right that the only thing that is relevant is God’s Word and not anyone’s personal private interpretation…so are you saying then that you “agree with Adam” and disagree with me and that Adam is right and I am wrong? So you have come along to say that Adam’s personal, private interpretation is correct? You do realize that there are scholars on both sides of this issue, right? Each asserting that their interpretation is correct…You have “taken a side” and everybody else is just putting forth a “personal, private, interpretation”…again…you are not germane…

          • Gentlewarrior

            The problem here is not so much as to who agrees with whom, but rather what the entire bible is all about. Is it about a nation called Israel of about Christ the Lord?

            NAU Luke 24:27 “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

            NAU Luke 24:44 “Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

            NAU John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

            Please answer this questions if you can and if you are willing. I’m referring to the first chapters of the book of Acts,

            1. Why is that the gospel was preached to the Jews first while all along they were the chosen ones?

            2. Why was it necessary for the Jews to repent and come to Christ?

            3. Why is that Israel persecuted the body of Christ who was composed of Jews only?

            4. Based on question 3, why did Jesus identified Himself with the persecuted believers only, and not with the entire nation of Israel? (See Acts chap 9)

            5. Why was a separation from national Israel and the church who was composed of Jews only?

            Lastly, why do we continue try to separate Israel from the church as if God had 2 separate plans while the scriptures plainly assure us that the distinction was broken through the blood of Christ?

            From the Complete Jewish Bible:

            Eph 2:11-16 “Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth- called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised- 12 at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Isra’el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise. You were in this world without hope and without God.

            13 But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood.

            14 For he himself is our shalom- he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us 15 by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, 16 and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity.”

            Did you read verse 15? God did it in order to create in union with Himself from the two groups a single new humanity. Should we call it a new creation?

            As you see fleshly Israel has nothing to do with the promises of God, yet we know that from the very beginning when Jews came to the Lord even until today, they instantly became part of the body of Christ.

            Conclusion, the entire body of Christ made up of all tribes and nations are the true chosen people of God (Eph 1:4), chosen before the foundation of the world.

            The Israel of today is nothing but a distraction and a deception to us because we are the sons of God via faith in Jesus Christ, not them. However, Jews will continue to come to the Lord from everywhere in the world in order to become part of the church, the body of Messiah, the Son of the living God!

  • Arthur Comery

    “Israel, which
    Jews perceive as their sovereign homeland”… now where would they get a funny idea like that? Could it have anything to do with unanimous decision of the League of Nations to grant the Jews permission to RECONSTITUTE their national homeland there??

    Christian Zionism … all you have succeeded in doing is to set up a straw man and then demolish it. Is that because you have no confidence in your own thesis … or were you just having a bad day?

    Arthur and Sue Comery

Date: 14 Jan 2015

Grouping: Lausanne Global Analysis

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