Replacement Theology = Covenant Theology

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blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Last night, I decided to do a google for baptist forums to see what's out there, what they discuss, etc. I came across a KJV-only independent fundamental baptist forum, and decided to poke around a little. I was curious, so I searched for "Covenant Theology" to see what their thoughts were.

I found a thread or two that basically said that covenant theology was another name for replacement theology. The church is now the recipient of God's promises, and national Israel is not. That was pretty much the extent of their discussions about covenant theology. Pretty deep stuff!

I'm a little curious, but not much, about what has been written under the heading of replacement theology. Truthfully, I'm not too inclined to read much about it, but I was wondering if any of you have read any books about replacement theology, particularly books written by its proponents. How close (or how much out in left field) do these books come to explaining what covenant theology is?
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
Last night, I decided to do a google for baptist forums to see what's out there, what they discuss, etc. I came across a KJV-only independent fundamental baptist forum, and decided to poke around a little. I was curious, so I searched for "Covenant Theology" to see what their thoughts were.

I found a thread or two that basically said that covenant theology was another name for replacement theology. The church is now the recipient of God's promises, and national Israel is not. That was pretty much the extent of their discussions about covenant theology. Pretty deep stuff!

I'm a little curious, but not much, about what has been written under the heading of replacement theology. Truthfully, I'm not too inclined to read much about it, but I was wondering if any of you have read any books about replacement theology, particularly books written by its proponents. How close (or how much out in left field) do these books come to explaining what covenant theology is?

In my humble opinion, a good rule of thumb is that whenever someone uses the words "Replacement Theology," you can immediately write off the credibility of anything they have written on theology at all.

It is a poor and misleading term that, when used by someone, betrays their complete lack of meaningful study, or their lack of ability to summarize someone anywhere close to fairly.

You probably won't find any self-identifying proponents of Replacement Theology, as the term only exists within the dispensational world to describe the totality of their one-sentence worth of knowledge about Covenant Theology. And that one sentence isn't even entirely correct.

The one sentence you will hear repeated over and over: "Replacement Theologians believe the church has replaced Israel."

In their world, it is almost an ad-hominem attack - they intentionally name something in a simplistic, apparently false-on-the-surface way so they can avoid substantive interaction on actual issues.

I would be highly interested to see if there actually exists somewhere a person who will say, "I hold to Replacement Theology." Anyone who knows the issue well enough to claim Covenant Theology is well aware of the fact that the single sentence definition offered is overly-simplistic, and in some ways just plain false.
 
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Zenas

Snow Miser
In my experiences, Independant Baptists are not known for their scholarship. I know a few kids who went to a local I.B. High School. The school was highly anti-intellectual, anti-scholarship, anti-anything that seemed to question their conclusions. Very pharisaical in their approach to everything as well. Drinking, smoking, using the ESV, ascribing to monergism = GOING TO HELL. One of my friends was told he was going to Hell by his teacher when he answered "Yes Sir".

All in all, they strike me as some sort of wierd cult, reminiscient of Fred Phelps.
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
"Replacement theology," I observe, at least around here, has evolved into a pejorative term used for what some *think* is covenant theology. Those who bandy it about say that it means that Reformed believers believe that the church has replaced God's chosen people, the Jews, entirely, and that God wants nothing more to do with them as a people. Of those who are the non-elect, of course, that's true.

For a couple of years, mostly out of curiosity and because I did have some Jewish forebears who were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism while still in Germany, I occasionally attended a Messianic congregation as a Reformed believer. The "rabbi" there condemned "replacement theology," although he himself professed at least four of the points of Calvinism. (Limited atonement was the logical bugbear for him.) He called proponents of what he called replacement theology "heretics." He and I disagreed that national Israel was part of the new covenant. His Bible version of choice was the NASB; in fact, he was and remains NASB-only. There was somewhat of a Baptist "bent" to this congregation; it was in partnership with a black Baptist minister who had started an African-American outreach to rabbinic Jews and who also decried what he called "replacement theology."

A book I bought just last Saturday is the diary of Robert Murray M'Cheyne and Andrew Bonar (two with Reformed credentials) as to their protracted, mid-19th century expedition to Palestine to investigate the possibility of establishing a Jewish homeland there. Replacement theologians? I think not. I haven't started the book yet, but I've read a number of articles about this expedition. I bought the book at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, having first spent the morning at the Reformation Heritage Bookstore at the PRTS in GR; the book is entitled, "Mission of Discovery: The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Evangelism." Its original title was "Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839."

I for one don't like the term "replacement theology" or its equation with covenant theology. It doesn't seem Biblical to me. Of course God is not done with the Jews (I'm speaking of individuals, not national Israel as it's now configured), for I see that He is still saving them as individuals, as He does with each of us. Those who would imply that "everyone" of the Reformed persuasion believes that God is through with the Jews and are firmly "down" with what they call replacement theology simply don't understand us. I don't believe in dispensationalism. "National," rabbinic, orthodox Judaic Israel is not God's holy place - but there were, last time I checked on the situation, about 80 Messianic congregations there and about 12,000 Jewish believers. The Lord is certainly present among them! "There is neither Jew nor Greek" in Christ, of course, but "salvation is of the Jews," i.e., He meant to bring the Redeemer from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I do believe in witnessing to Jews and do it frequently. (Romans 1:16... Romans 9, 10, 11.)

I probably haven't cleared anything up, but I've strenuously resisted being called a proponent of "replacement theology" by Jewish believers for a long time now. The term itself is irritating to me...

Thank you for posting this thread, Bob! If I've said anything wrong-headed here, I will stand corrected and appreciate the correction...

Margaret
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
The one sentence you will hear repeated over and over: "Replacement Theologians believe the church has replaced Israel."
Jeremy,
Thanks for your response. I did a quick google for this sentence, and came across a site that wrote this:
Replacement Theology: A Heresy, which says that since Israel rejected their Messiah, they forfeit their God-given promises over to the church. This would include a transfer of the promise for land, and a transfer of the promise of the coming judgment upon the people of the earth. This is the kind of doctrine that caused the Holocaust and continues to promote anti-Semitism. It is the kind of doctrine that teaches that the church will endure the coming time of tribulation. To say that God made unconditional promises to Israel and then broke them is to call God a liar, which is blasphemy. In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear that He will never abandon Israel. Not for their sakes, but because His Name and His reputation are on the line.​
If they equate replacement theology with covenant theology, then covenant theology is heresy???

I'll give (perhaps naively) people who use this phrase the benefit of the doubt and assume most don't think CT is heresy.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
We don't follow "replacement theology." We follow "grafted theology."

There's one vine: Christ, one Israel: one people of God. Eph 2:15 "by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace."

These people say what they say only because they already keep the two distinct. So they hear us saying "We've taken over the promises from Israel." No, actually, we've joined the true Israel, Christ, along with the OT believers, who were "of Israel," Rom 9:6.

These people don't believe Christ is the goal of the law (Rom 10:4), that in him it is finished. They think the law is coming back. They think the Temple is coming back. The goals of the OT have not been accomplished, and there are two intentions of God for different "peoples". All this is contrary to Paul's doctrine.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
Replacement theology is in my mind just another strand of dispensationalism, an attempt to disasociate the Church from the Old Testament. How can you understand the new covenant properly when you seperate it from the old covenant?
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
If they equate replacement theology with covenant theology, then covenant theology is heresy???

That is exactly what they are saying, though, in fairness they are saying that with a completely false understanding of what CT is.

Bruce is right on the money, and it is exactly the best way to respond to those who hate "Replacement Theology."

Replacement theology is in my mind just another strand of dispensationalism, an attempt to disasociate the Church from the Old Testament. How can you understand the new covenant properly when you seperate it from the old covenant?

You can't. But this question reveals just how shallow their understanding of CT is. By saying the Church replaces Israel, they are showing they are ignorant of the fact that CT-proponents believe the Church existed in the OT. And there is no possible way these folks could summarize our define our position as concisely as Bruce did.

All they have to do is memorize that short post, and they would know what CT is, in contrast to their rhetoric of replacement. Though, it is longer than one sentence, and is more difficult to argue with :) They have a vested interest in remaining ignorant and over-simplified. It makes them think they win.

Sorry, this is a particular beef of mine, and maybe my tone is too harsh to these men who could be my brothers in the Lord. But messing with Christ's role as the True Vine really gets under my skin.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
I for one don't like the term "replacement theology" or its equation with covenant theology. It doesn't seem Biblical to me. Of course God is not done with the Jews (I'm speaking of individuals, not national Israel as it's now configured), for I see that He is still saving them as individuals, as He does with each of us. Those who would imply that "everyone" of the Reformed persuasion believes that God is through with the Jews and are firmly "down" with what they call replacement theology simply don't understand us.
Margaret,
Thanks for your comments. I'm beginning to wonder if using the phrase is the extent to which they explain covenant theology (I may be wrong, though), similar to the way some people say reformed churches couldn't completely break from the catholic church, and therefore they baptize infants. For some, no more needs to be said. The point is made, and with one quick statement you can prove everybody else wrong, and yourself right.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
I second what has been said about "replacement theology" being a pejorative.

I recommend an article by PCA teaching elder Fred Klett, Not Replacement...Expansion.

I also recommend a series by Dr. Sam Waldron on his blog where he attempts to interact with a book by Barry Horner called Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged on the issue of amillennialism's (really covenant theology) "anti-semitism".

Horner writes:

“Whatever the terminology that is used concerning this perspective, whether replacement theology, supercessionism, fulfillment theology, transference theology, or absorptionism, they all amount to the same basic denigration of the Jews and ultimately of national Israel in the present Christian dispensation.”

Waldron responds in about 22 blog entries.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
If they equate replacement theology with covenant theology, then covenant theology is heresy???

That is exactly what they are saying, though, in fairness they are saying that with a completely false understanding of what CT is.
I'm all for being fair, but boy, when somebody throws around a term like heresy, it would seem incumbant upon them to be pretty sure they have an accurate understanding of CT.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
And, even if they had a right understanding of CT - they would probably find it even worse, so the point is rather moot.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
I recommend an article by PCA teaching elder Fred Klett, Not Replacement...Expansion.

I also recommend a series by Dr. Sam Waldron on his blog where he attempts to interact with a book by Barry Horner called Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged on the issue of amillennialism's (really covenant theology) "anti-semitism".
Tom,
Thanks for the recommendation. I started reading a little of the first article you mentioned while on break, but his "work thing" got in the way of me finishing it. I look forward to finishing reading it tonight, and checking out the blog as well.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
We don't follow "replacement theology." We follow "grafted theology."

There's one vine: Christ, one Israel: one people of God. Eph 2:15 "by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace."

These people say what they say only because they already keep the two distinct. So they hear us saying "We've taken over the promises from Israel." No, actually, we've joined the true Israel, Christ, along with the OT believers, who were "of Israel," Rom 9:6.

These people don't believe Christ is the goal of the law (Rom 10:4), that in him it is finished. They think the law is coming back. They think the Temple is coming back. The goals of the OT have not been accomplished, and there are two intentions of God for different "peoples". All this is contrary to Paul's doctrine.
Your response is so succinct and "to the point". Have you ever had the "opportunity" of being accused of believing in replacement theology, and explaining this to them?


CT believers are also often accused of thinking they are Jewish, while I think that this is incorrect (as Jewish is to me a racial class) there is an element of truth in this accusation in my mind, as while not being Jewish we are Israel.

This is seen as being offensive because we are saying that the jews are no longer Israel (or as is often (and in my view incorrectly) said said no longer Jewish), which is in my view true. Dispensationalists hate this view.

Secondly people are often basically anti-semitic and find it implausable that someone would claim to be Israel (or as they would see claim to be Jewish).
 

turmeric

Megerator
I think Dispensationalism created "replacement theology". Some Reformed have become entrenched in their view that God is "through with Israel", but this wasn't a huge thing until Dispensationalsim made a big deal out of it. It also happens that there are historical premillennialists who don't htink God is "through with Israel".
 

Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I recommend an article by PCA teaching elder Fred Klett, Not Replacement...Expansion.

I also recommend a series by Dr. Sam Waldron on his blog where he attempts to interact with a book by Barry Horner called Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged on the issue of amillennialism's (really covenant theology) "anti-semitism".
Tom,
Thanks for the recommendation. I started reading a little of the first article you mentioned while on break, but his "work thing" got in the way of me finishing it. I look forward to finishing reading it tonight, and checking out the blog as well.

Whoa! That book by Horner must be something else! I'm going to look into obtaining it. I hope it's still in print... It likely would counter the institutionalized anti-Semitism of the RCC as well, which I always had a problem with.

Where "Christian" anti-Semitism, dispensationalism, charges of heretical belief in "replacement theology" and Romanism all meet in a "group hug" - and they do - that's a bad scene. It's unfortunate that most Jewish believers are blind to this.

"Replacement Theology:" just another way of saying, "Reformed Prots Not Welcome Here." :think: :cool:

BTW, the expedition to Palestine that I mentioned above, in 1839, was undertaken just before the disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843, which resulted in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland (the "wee Frees"), which in turn resulted in the Free Church of Scotland [Continuing]. See what a good path the Church of Scotland was once on? :book2:

Margaret
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
When speaking with dispensationalists I generally exchange the word "replacement" with "transference." The apostle uses the term in 1 Cor. 4:6 with reference to the images of the field, the building, and the steward. Likewise the "elect nation" was the figure of greater blessings to come. The Christ-rejecting Jewish people sought to supplant the true heirs and claim the figure for themselves. Covenant theology faithfully transfers or applies the figure to its true referent --> our Lord Jesus Christ, and those united to Him by faith. There is no replacement, but simply a recognition of the true heirs of the promise.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
If you're interested in an outstanding book on Covenant theology that includes a phenomenal critique of dispensational theology then pick up O. Palmer Robertson's Christ of the Covenants.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
I second what has been said about "replacement theology" being a pejorative.

I recommend an article by PCA teaching elder Fred Klett, Not Replacement...Expansion.

I also recommend a series by Dr. Sam Waldron on his blog where he attempts to interact with a book by Barry Horner called Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged on the issue of amillennialism's (really covenant theology) "anti-semitism".

Horner writes:

“Whatever the terminology that is used concerning this perspective, whether replacement theology, supercessionism, fulfillment theology, transference theology, or absorptionism, they all amount to the same basic denigration of the Jews and ultimately of national Israel in the present Christian dispensation.”

Waldron responds in about 22 blog entries.

I am staying with Fred Klett during our PCA General Assembly, so I am anxious to discuss this with him. I have always struggled with Paul's teaching in Romans 10 & 11 about the future of Israel. Many Reformed people like Ian Murray believe that there is a future ingrafting of Israel into the church, but this is not replacement theology. The Puritans would not have held to replacement theology and I do not know of any Reformed people who do.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
"Replacement theology," I observe, at least around here, has evolved into a pejorative term used for what some *think* is covenant theology. Those who bandy it about say that it means that Reformed believers believe that the church has replaced God's chosen people, the Jews, entirely, and that God wants nothing more to do with them as a people. Of those who are the non-elect, of course, that's true.

For a couple of years, mostly out of curiosity and because I did have some Jewish forebears who were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism while still in Germany, I occasionally attended a Messianic congregation as a Reformed believer. The "rabbi" there condemned "replacement theology," although he himself professed at least four of the points of Calvinism. (Limited atonement was the logical bugbear for him.) He called proponents of what he called replacement theology "heretics." He and I disagreed that national Israel was part of the new covenant. His Bible version of choice was the NASB; in fact, he was and remains NASB-only. There was somewhat of a Baptist "bent" to this congregation; it was in partnership with a black Baptist minister who had started an African-American outreach to rabbinic Jews and who also decried what he called "replacement theology."

A book I bought just last Saturday is the diary of Robert Murray M'Cheyne and Andrew Bonar (two with Reformed credentials) as to their protracted, mid-19th century expedition to Palestine to investigate the possibility of establishing a Jewish homeland there. Replacement theologians? I think not. I haven't started the book yet, but I've read a number of articles about this expedition. I bought the book at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, having first spent the morning at the Reformation Heritage Bookstore at the PRTS in GR; the book is entitled, "Mission of Discovery: The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Evangelism." Its original title was "Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839."

I for one don't like the term "replacement theology" or its equation with covenant theology. It doesn't seem Biblical to me. Of course God is not done with the Jews (I'm speaking of individuals, not national Israel as it's now configured), for I see that He is still saving them as individuals, as He does with each of us. Those who would imply that "everyone" of the Reformed persuasion believes that God is through with the Jews and are firmly "down" with what they call replacement theology simply don't understand us. I don't believe in dispensationalism. "National," rabbinic, orthodox Judaic Israel is not God's holy place - but there were, last time I checked on the situation, about 80 Messianic congregations there and about 12,000 Jewish believers. The Lord is certainly present among them! "There is neither Jew nor Greek" in Christ, of course, but "salvation is of the Jews," i.e., He meant to bring the Redeemer from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I do believe in witnessing to Jews and do it frequently. (Romans 1:16... Romans 9, 10, 11.)

I probably haven't cleared anything up, but I've strenuously resisted being called a proponent of "replacement theology" by Jewish believers for a long time now. The term itself is irritating to me...

Thank you for posting this thread, Bob! If I've said anything wrong-headed here, I will stand corrected and appreciate the correction...

Margaret

Robert Murray M'Cheyne & Andrew Bonar were solid Calvinists who believed that God promised to ingraft Israel once again. Both of these men believed that the church had a resposibility to preach to the Jewish people, but they did not advocate "replacement theology." Interestingly they were Pre-millenialists and were influenced by Edward Irving, who was removed from the ministry for heresy.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
I am staying with Fred Klett during our PCA General Assembly, so I am anxious to discuss this with him. I have always struggled with Paul's teaching in Romans 10 & 11 about the future of Israel. Many Reformed people like Ian Murray believe that there is a future ingrafting of Israel into the church, but this is not replacement theology. The Puritans would not have held to replacement theology and I do not know of any Reformed people who do.

Say "hello" to Fred for me. My family along with others from our former PCA congregation have worshipped with him and the congregation Rock of Israel in NE Philadelphia.

Since "replacement theology" is a pejorative phrase, it’s hard to pin down exactly hat it is supposed to mean without context. Many folks just use it as a synonym for covenant theology, although obviously with the intent to denigrate. For some folks it means anti-Semitism. Some use it as a way to refer to those who do not agree on their Christian Zionist views of modern Israel.

Some of the Puritans believed that there was an identifiable future for racial Israel involving the land in the Middle East. However, I believe they made it clear that the promises were all in the context of Christ and the Church, not the racial divide that is common among traditional dispensationalists.

Whatever the meaning of Romans 11, we have God’s promise that he is bringing all the nations to Himself by the work of the Spirit through the instrument of His Church (Matt. 28:19ff; 1 Cor. 15:25).
 
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