What is Replacement Theology? (continued)
Did the authors of the New Testament advocate for replacement theology?
In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses the place of Jews in God’s design when he asks and immediately answers the question: “Did God reject his people?” His crystal-clear answer is “. . . By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew . . .” (Romans 11:1–2 NIV).
The New Testament does not teach replacement theology. In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses the place of Jews in God’s design when he asks and immediately answers the question: “Did God reject his people?” His crystal-clear answer is “. . . By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew . . .” (Romans 11:1–2 NIV). In the same chapter, Paul explains that God extends his mercy to all humanity out of the desire to bring all Jews and all gentiles to himself (Romans 11:25–36).
Jesus was born of a Jewish mother; he was Jewish, and all of his first disciples and followers were Jews. The people who heard Jesus teach and preach were mainly Jews. A careful study of the New Testament reveals that the covenant community grew (and was fulfilled) to include gentiles and Jews.
Christians of all stripes should align their theology of the Holy Land with New Testament theology, which embraces all races and ethnicities, including Jews. The New Testament does not “replace” anyone with anyone else, because each person is created in God’s image. Theological blunders such as replacement theology can cause further conflict and anguish to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Should critiquing Israeli policies be considered a form of replacement theology?
Some Zionists believe that when people criticize Israel’s domestic policies, they are criticizing Judaism. Therefore, they say, criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. This claim is incorrect. Israel is a political state, and, as such, Israel is subject to moral criticism just as other states are. Judaism, on the other hand, is a culture, an ethnicity, and a religious faith, each deserving respect.
No state is exempt from international law or from the principles on which it is based. When Israel violates the Fourth Geneva Convention by punishing people simply because they are Palestinian or by seizing Palestinian land, the international community is morally obligated to speak out. Moreover, every Christian and every Jew is called to follow the example of the Hebrew prophets: They spoke out against the civil leaders of ancient Israel and ancient Judah, including the king, when these leaders took advantage of widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor. Criticizing modern nations cannot possibly be seen as anti-Semitic or as replacement theology, because speaking out against injustice is based on the Old Testament prophetic tradition.