CT’s Discussion betw. Brickner and Piper

CT’s discussion between Messianic Jew David Brickner and John Piper concerns supersessionism, though both of them are soft-shoeing enough the debate isn’t as clear as it ought to be… hoping for some more clear-headed thinking in the days ahead.

Michelle Van Loon gets after it a little more directly:

This week, Christianity Today’s website featured the first round of volleys between David Brickner, the head of Jews for Jesus and John Piper, author and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. The question being debated is “Do Jews Have A Divine Right To Israel’s Land?” Here is Brickner’s post, here’s Piper’s response.

The question is not merely an academic exercise in Biblical hermeneutics about modern Israel’s divine right to exist. It also speaks to ethnic Israel’s continued existence both in the diaspora as well as those living in the land of Israel; we’re now approaching a point where nearly half of the world Jewish population now resides in the State of Israel. The question also speaks to the identity of Jewish believers in Jesus like me.

This is not a simple “true/false” question. I contend that the way in which you answer that question – the ideas and Scripture you use to support your one-word answer – have told me some very painful stories about my identity in the four decades that I have been a Jewish believer in Jesus.

  • Replacement (Supercessesionist) Theology has insisted that my religious/ethnic identity as a Jew no longer matters now that I am a Christian. Though it is true that the big C Church is now participating in the mission of proclamation given to Israel, she does so because she has been grafted in to Israel (Rom. 11:17-20), not because God took a chainsaw and stump grinder in order to eradicate Israel from His eternal plans. Replacement theology has long fed anti-Semitic sentiment, and is no friend of the Jewish people. If I had I lived in Europe during WWII, my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ would not have saved me from being put onto a cattle car and shipped to Auchwitz. Replacement theology taken to a demonic extreme fueled some of the ideology that allowed Nazism to flourish. Few Messianic Jews are fans of this theology. It is again on the rise in the Evangelical world with the ascendancy of the neo-Calvinists. Piper is a leading voice in this tribe.
  • Messianic Judaism has tried to tell me that if I become a part of the Church, I will lose my Jewish identity. Jewish identity is formed in community with other Jews, and informed not only by the teachings of Scripture, and is typically shaped by post-Biblical practices endorsed by rabbis and other authorities. In the diaspora, Messianic Judaism typically takes its cues from synagogue patterns and liturgy. In Israel, Messianic congregations run the gamut from gatherings that function as Hebrew-speaking churches to those that are close cousins in style to Jewish Orthodox gatherings. One important note about Messianic congregations in Israel is that the issues of Jewish identity and lifestyle have been somewhat resolved because they are living their faith in a land that has set itself to the Jewish rhythms of observance. I left the American Messianic world two decades ago because I felt uncomfortable being a part of tiny congregations that seemed to exist in a strange DMZ between the mainstream Church and the Jewish world. As a result of this decision, I gained an extensive understanding of Gentile Christianity, but the identity concerns I heard years ago from the Messianic Jewish community about being a part of the church have been proven valid. My husband and I did what we could, unevenly at best, to maintain and pass on Jewish identity to our kids, but it is a lonely, odd job to do that out of the the context of a  supportive faith community. It is no small thing to value a Jewish person attending a church. I am grateful that we’ve been in congregations that do value and support my husband and I. But it is another thing entirely to worship my Messiah in a distinctively Jewish way, live into the Jewish feast cycle (Leviticus 23) rather than Christmas-Easter-Mother’s Day-Father’s Day, and participate fully in the riches of Jewish life because this is my birthright as a daughter of Abraham.
  • Christian Zionism has loudly insisted that I am only valuable because “getting Israel saved will cause Jesus to return at last”. Though this theological posture toward both the state of Israel and the Jewish people is certainly an improvement over Supercessionist thinking, it objectifies Jews, treating them as a means to an end. Or, more aptly, The End. I have taken a grateful but guarded position with some of these folks, because I have felt “used” by them, as if I was a trophy. With others, I sense genuine friendship and care, though I can not embrace their theology.

I firmly believe that the Jews have a divine right to our homeland. I have compassion for the Israeli Arab (Palestinian) population, and I believe that they, too have a prophetic calling and purpose in the region.

A visitor to Yad Vaashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, exits the building to a plaza that offers a breathtaking view of Jerusalem and beyond. The powerful nonverbal message is that we stand here now because that travesty that decimated Jewry happened two generations ago. Israel’s continued fragile existence surrounded and vastly outnumbered by sworn, human-rights violating nations (Syria, Egypt for starters) is all mercy, as Brickner  noted. Piper states that that Israelmay (italics his) have a human right to the land, but that the nation’s divine right is both conditional and irrevocable. I do no have a quarrel with the Biblical accuracy of those statements, but I do have a serious beef with his application, which comes down to these words: “While Israel rejects Jesus as her Messiah, neither God’s mercy nor his justice offers compelling warrant for her possessing the Land.”

In other words, John Piper is stating that until world Jewry comes to faith in Christ, they do not have a divine right to the land. His theology has disconnected his idea of future redemption from God’s present mercy to his Chosen People in a way that violently violates Romans 11. When the former Phariseee Saul-now-Paul wrote his friends in Rome, he explained his ministry motivation: “...if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.” (Romans 11:14 NASB).

Piper’s words and harsh application will not move any Jewish person to jealousy. Ever.

And they made me, a Jewish believer in the Jewish Jesus Piper confesses, very, very sad as well.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Patrick

    Theologically, I think the Abrahamic promises were to him as a believer, not as an ethnic Jew for he was not an ethnic Jew when he was blessed with these fantastic promises. He was a Gentile . 13 years later he gets circumcised.

    Paul made it clear believing Christians are the heirs of the promises to Abraham, not genetic relatives of Abraham, we are Abraham’s seed in that respect. Jews and Gentiles equally.

    So, do ethnic Jews have a covenant promise to that land in perpetuity? Not, IMO.

    What is a Jew’s value to the Church ? The same as a Gentiles. It is incalculable. We all belong to each other.

  • NW

    I am an unabashed supersessionist, it is perfectly clear to me that the covenant Yahweh made with Israel at Sinai has been rendered obsolete and is no longer in force (Heb 8:13). Jesus came as part of his earthly ministry to confirm the eschatological new covenant so that people from every tongue, tribe, and nation could enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh as part of a new Israel just as the Hebrew scriptures predicted (needless to say, the new Israel does not replace the old Israel but exists along side it and overlaps with it). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Jewish people wanting to preserve their heritage and traditions but from the perspective of the NT there is no longer a covenant in force in which their specific ethnic identity confers any special privileges and rights whatsoever, that aspect of Yahweh’s grand work of salvation has come and gone.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is perverse to insist on seeing a particular ethnic group as having a special relationship with Yahweh that confers its own unique set of privileges and rights over against every other ethnic group as if Yahweh is a respecter of persons. The point of the Mosaic covenant is not that Yahweh made a covenant with Israel for her own sake but that he did so for the sake of the world as part of a much larger project of salvation in which Israel would be play an important but temporary role.

  • http://jessemedina.com Jesse

    This is the author’s primary complaint:

    “In other words, John Piper is stating that until world Jewry comes to faith in Christ, they do not have a divine right to the land.”

    I could summarize her beef this way:

    “John Piper is stating that until world Jewry comes to faith in Christ, they cannot lay claim to the promises of Christ.”

    And I want to say, “Uh…right.”

    Because according to Galatians 3:16, “…the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”

    So how can ones who lack faith in Christ lay claim to a promise that was not made to them, but to Him?

    Galatians 3 makes all of this pretty clear to me, but I’m open to being corrected.

  • Dave Leigh

    The notion that the New Testament teaches any hint of ethnic entitlement is appalling and unfounded. I am a Christian of Jewish extraction. I know from my heritage and from world history how disasterous the results can be when any group thinks it has divine rights over (or in contrast) to any other. The promises to Abraham were promises to the “father of MANY nations.” His Seed, who is the proper heir and recipient of those promises, is none other than Jesus Christ. His coheirs are those who possess the faith of Abraham, regardless of whether they are Jews, Gentiles, men, women, slaves or free. This is what Paul spoke of in citing the gospel that God made known to Abraham (Gal 3:8). And so it is not a matter of supercessesionism or dispensationalism but the fulfillment of God’s history-long project in forming one nation from (and inclusive of) all nations. Nothing has been replaced. No dispensations are involved. And no one nation has any exclusive superiority in God’s final vision. Rather, his kingdom of holy priests consists of all who name Jesus as their King. I continue to be shocked that the God who never changes, and who is no respecter of persons, continues to me misrepresented even by so-called biblical scholars. Piper and Brickler, dispensationalists and “Christian Zionists,” and all who frame the discussion as it has been depicted here, risk promoting a racist mentality that can only lead to dysfunctional, disastrous, and destructive outcomes. Indeed, the crimes against humanity committed in the name of Zionism is already on the hands of way too many Christians. To accept the premises of either Piper or Brickler and their ilks is to surrender the ability to judge the premises of the Nazis or the Klan, because they are the same assumptions about humanity and about God’s disposition toward genetic differences. Has no one here read Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, or Hebrews? Has no one understood that God has made the two groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one man in Christ by breaking down the wall of hostility between them? Both Jews and Gentiles in Christ are collectively and exclusively the true citizens of God’s Israel. If we foolishly accept supercessesionism and dispensationalism as the only two choices, then we have corrupted the most essential message of the Bible by polluting the gospel with racist error. What’s more, if we promote the idea that any ethnic group is entitled to, or the proper recipients of, those things that belong exclusively to Christ then we have set up a privileged racial elite that can only be called anti-Christ because it presumes to lay claim to what is his alone.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Wow, what a subject. [Ignore me in this one, I am just speculating and have not researched enough...]

    I always thought of it that the land has now become the world, not that it stays Israel. Silly me.

  • Glenn J

    Jews were created by God. They were given a specific role and purpose by God. To say that at the cross, Jewish identity has been abolished is to deny God’s creation and to collapse the creation of Jews into the fall from which redemption is needed. How can anyone claim any right to ethnic identity if Jewish identity is abolished. History is filled with the stories of how missionaries stripped ethnic groups of identity and sought to make them into their own image. Native Americans (one example) were forbidden to speak their language, to practice their culture or to in any way be who God created them to be – Native Americans redeemed by Christ. God grafted the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel as Gentiles without any requirement that they become Jews. If we now deny Jewish identity, then what right do African-Americans, Koreans, or any other ethnic group have to be who they are when they enter the church if the very distinction God created is abolished? A nation is defined by language, culture and land. God’s creation of Israel is connected to God’s promise to Abraham and Jewish identity is rooted in this promise. To deny this is to deny God’s faithfulness.

  • scotmcknight

    For those who say they are supersessionistic, tell me what Paul means in Romans 9-11 that the promises are “inviolable”? That “all Israel” will be saved?

  • NW

    Scot,

    “For those who say they are supersessionistic, tell me what Paul means in Romans 9-11…That “all Israel” will be saved?”

    The opening words of 11:26 should be translated “and in this way” with ουτως understood in a modal sense so that the way in which all [new] Israel will be saved refers back to v 25 in which it is said that [old] Israel will be [partially] hardened while the Gentiles come in [to new Israel] (i.e. become members of the new Israel). The “mystery” that Paul is referring to in v 25 is that the promises to Israel in the OT are for the new Israel that Yahweh would enter into covenant relationship with as part of the eschatological new covenant and not for the old Israel that Yahweh had entered into a covenant relationship with as part of the Mosaic covenant.

    Once again, the new Israel doesn’t replace the old Israel but exists alongside it as two different sets of people who have entered into two different covenant relationships with Yahweh, although obviously there is some overlap (e.g. Jews like Paul).

  • http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profile/Norm Norman

    If we would quit confusing biblical symbolism with a physical expectation of the land this question should have been settled in the first century. Paul surely understood the OT language enough to interpret it in a messianic Jewish fulfilled context. Instead we are prone to read Biblical language like the apostate Jews of Christ day that didn’t have eyes to see and ears to hear. Nothing new there as that has been a problem for all peoples at all times through history and those specific Jews were not the only ones who would stand before the judgment to be held accountable. Neither Jew nor Gentile has any special privileges if they ignore God’s calling.

    Rom 2:11-12 For God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

    As I stated this issues is put to bed in so many places both in the OT and NT that it’s laughable that we are still arguing over it after 2000 years.

    Can’t we just accept Paul’s Holy Spirit lead insight?

    Rom 9:6-8 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” THIS MEANS THAT IT IS NOT THE CHILDREN OF THE FLESH WHO ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

    Do we simply not understand whom Paul is declaring comprises “all Israel” in his introductory statement above in which Rom 11 is building upon? Why can’t we keep Paul’s thoughts in context when we read further than a paragraph or so? All good students of Pauline studies in Romans know that he begins thoughts in an earlier section and comes back and completes them after a sidebar discussion. Paul is not trained in good English grammatical structures so we have to pay closer attention with a longer attention span.

    Finally this is the mess we get in when we want to project into the unforeseen future what was occurring in the first century context. The land promises are fulfilled if you understand the language but they will be an eternal torment if you don’t.

    I’m sure if Ezekiel was able to speak to us today that he would lament ever using apocalyptic language to describe the land inheritance that becomes like the Garden of Eden. What was he thinking. ;-) Didn’t he know better than to confuse folks? Good grief!

    Eze 36:24-35 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and BRING YOU INTO YOUR OWN LAND. (25) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. (26) And I WILL GIVE YOU A NEW HEART, AND A NEW SPIRIT I WILL PUT WITHIN YOU. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (28) YOU SHALL DWELL IN THE LAND THAT I GAVE TO YOUR FATHERS, AND YOU SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE YOUR GOD. (29) And I WILL DELIVER YOU FROM ALL YOUR UNCLEANNESSES. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. (30) I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. (31) Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. (32) It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (33) “Thus says the Lord GOD: ON THE DAY THAT I CLEANSE YOU FROM ALL YOUR INIQUITIES, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. (34) AND THE LAND THAT WAS DESOLATE SHALL BE TILLED, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. (35) And they will say, ‘THIS LAND THAT WAS DESOLATE HAS BECOME LIKE THE GARDEN OF EDEN, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’

    Surely we are sophisticated enough in this day and age to recognize that the Land Promises came with the Messianic promises and become like the Garden of Eden. Even many of the Jews realized that the Garden Land was the idyllic place where a person abided when they were walking in Righteousness with God. It’s all about being returned to Adam’s original right standing in the Garden land before He and Eve broke the Law. This language is purely symbolism designed to tell story about receiving hearts of Flesh instead of Hearts of stone through the Holy Spirit. It’s not about getting physical land; instead turn to Ezekiel 47 & 48 if you want to see the land promises and then to Rev 7 where Ezekiel 47 is fulfilled.

    In Christ the Land is fulfilled and is the New Covenant land of milk and honey.

  • http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profile/Norm Norman

    NW,

    I would say the model of apostate hardened Israel is the Cain and Abel story in which Cain is driven out from the Land in which he would have inherited as the firstborn of Adam. He would lose access to God and his pain would be more than he could bear and the fruit of his works of righteousness would bear nothing that would sustain him. His plight would be even worse than Adam’s whose works yielded thorns and thistles. In other words John‘s and Christ comparison to Cain means those who rejected the messiah lost the covenant. Being cast out of the Covenant was being relegated back to darkness in which the pagans lived.

    Gen 4:11-16 And now you (Cain) are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. WHEN YOU WORK THE GROUND, IT SHALL NO LONGER YIELD TO YOU ITS STRENGTH. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and FROM YOUR FACE I SHALL BE HIDDEN. … (16) Then Cain WENT AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

  • Chris White

    DRT.

    I also think the land is now the world-Rom.4. And those in Christ are heirs of the promise given to Abraham (land=world) (Gal.). Why is this an either or with Israel? Why can’t it be both? That near the end, at the end of the “time of the Gentiles” (non-Jews), that the ethnic Jews in large numbers, will see their Messiah as Jesus of Nazareth, be reconciled. Since we Gentiles are grafted in, there being only one trunk, the root of Jesse, therefore the Jews, being natural branches, can be grafted in (Rom.11). Not two groups, but one (Eph.2) Neither Jew not Greek (non-Jew), but we together are heirs of the promises, have put on the Messiah (Gal.3). Our primary identity, whether Jew or non-Jew, should not be described by that, but being “in Christ” where all other particularities find their fulfillment, for there is one body, one church (Eph.4). And if there is a special assignment for my Jewish brothers and sisters, then I rejoice. For Christ is Lord and the Spirit decides the ministries and gifts given. And as they (we) are obedient to His calling, the Kingdom will flourish and God will be glorified, His will being done on earth. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

  • NW

    Norman,

    I must say, you may be right about Cain prefiguring the larger part of Israel that would not only reject Jesus but also persecute their fellow countrymen who would accept him, the latter group being prefigured by Abel. After all, there is a lot more eschatology embedded within Genesis than most people realize. Still, I don’t think this is terribly relevant to the question of supersessionism.

  • NW

    Jesse,

    I beg to differ, very little is clear in Galatians 3, that whole chapter is a mess.

  • http://Whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog Andrew Wilson

    Whatever the exegetical ins and outs – and I’m generally with DRT on Rom 4 and Gal 3 – the way the author has presented the options is far too binary (excluding the second, which is not a Christian position). Many interpreters would argue against supercessionism (not supercessesionism :) ) on the basis of the end time restoration of Israel in Rom 9-11, but still believe that the seed who inherits the promises to Abraham, including land/world, is those who are in Christ (I’m here, and Scot may well be too). I’m not sure flattening this distinction helps.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Michelle Van Loon:

    Your words were very moving and well-written and very true. I could have told you that the new evangelical left (who are very vocal on Scot’s blog) would tend to be opposed to your views and mine. There is knee-jerk political reaction against former right wing positions held in the same evangelical community going on. There is little careful attention to the Bible’s story going on with these commenters. For example, I note that they are unable to understand how Paul uses rhetoric to counter the claims of the synagogues of his time that gentiles could only be right with God via conversion. Paul rightly points out the promises through Abraham are to all nations. Yet these commenters absurdly imagine that Paul then thought the promise to Israel was abandoned, replaced by a new group of recipients. They cannot grasp that the promise all along was FROM Israel TO the nations, that Israel was the locus with some unique promises though blessing comes to all. They cannot grasp that in correcting an error, Paul emphasizes one side (gentile inclusion) and assumes agreement on the other (Jewish privilege, Rom 3:1; 9:4-5).

  • scotmcknight

    NW, If you have “doesn’t replace” and “existing alongside” then you are not supersessionistic, right?

  • scotmcknight

    But Andrew on this side we spell it “superSessionism.”

  • http://erb.kingdomnow.org/ Chris Smith

    I am not a supersessionist… Following Gerhard Lohfink, Walter Brueggemann and others, I believe there is a continuity between the work God began in Israel and the work that continues in the church. HOWEVER, it does not necessarily follow from this position that one must embrace Zionism. Indeed, a careful reading of the First Testament — e.g., that in John Nugent’s POLITICS OF YAHWEH — seems to indicate that the era of monarchy and landedness was an aberration in Israel’s history, not the norm. The fruits of (at least the mainstream of) Zionism are those of any earthly kingdom: hatred, bitterness, bloodshed, impatience, violence, greed, etc. Last time I checked these were not fruits of the Spirit, and indeed pretty much their polar opposites.

  • http://erb.kingdomnow.org/ Chris Smith

    One additional thought…

    I suspect that American Evangelicals are extraordinarily interested in Israeli nationalism because it resonates with their own Constantinian hopes for (or, a la David Barton, nostalgia for) the US as a Christian nation. And I think Scot’s newer post on Ross Douthat and “The Heresy of American Nationalism” is helpful on reflecting on the theological challenges of nationalism of any sort, American or Israeli…

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    In some sense, to be a Christian is to follow some kind of supersessionism. Maybe the bottom line is not whether there is some degree of it but how much? Some theology and practices of supersessionism gets really nasty to the Jews and Israel (I am not sure how many people want to go that far?).

    Whatever ones theology, do you love Israel? Do we even hear the Jewish prayers in the Bible to pray for Israel and Jerusalem? Or to put it differently, if someone blew the state of Israel off the map (where half of the world’s Jews now live) would it even bother us very much?

    I am not typically a fan of four views books but I have been waiting expectantly for a new one to come out called “Four Views on the Apostle Paul.” This book could be one of the most fruitful dialogues on issues like this?

    For example, there is the Reformed Perspective – Thomas R. Schreiner
    Catholic (or I might add EO) perspective – Luke Timothy Johnson
    A post-new perspective – Douglas Campbell
    a Jewish Perspective – Mark Nanos

    Two of the most challenging scholars in the field of of NT interpretation has been Nanos more Jewish approach to interpreting books like Romans and Galatians as well as a new kind of apocalyptic approach by Douglas Campbell.

    This dialogue or possibly debate should prove interesting :-)

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Scot #16:

    I agree that “doesn’t replace” and “existing alongside” is the most important part of avoiding supersessionism. I suggest expansion vs. replacement as the paradigm (and also that expansion was intended from the onset of the Abrahamic promise).

    Chris #18 and #19:

    Yes, avoiding supersessionism does not require a particular brand of Zionism. And the word Zionism has now, sadly, become equated with the John Hagee sort of excesses. The word originally was used of Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah) thinkers who lived in anti-Semitic Europe and sought a safe home for the Jewish people. It is sad how good words get ruined in the hateful and politically charged environment of modern discussion. One may be a Zionist in the broad sense without assuming extreme views and without abandoning hope in justice for all peoples in the Middle East.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    CGC #20:

    I hope many people will pay more attention to the work of Mark Nanos on Galatians and Romans. I did not know he was included in that Four Views volume. I will have to obtain a copy. Nanos is a Jewish NT scholar. His strong work on the history and sociology of the Greco-Roman world and identity issues for Jews, proselytes, God-fearers, and gentiles is bringing a deeper understanding of the context of Paul’s letters. His attention to the features of rhetoric is valuable in reading Paul without over-correcting (assuming Paul abandoned his hopes for Jewish renewal).

  • NW

    Scot,

    Technically, I can avoid the label of replacement theology because I am not saying that the new covenant is a reaffirmation of the Mosaic covenant in which Israel gets redefined to those who belong to Jesus. By keeping the covenants separate I maintain the distinction of two different Israels living alongside each other and overlapping with each other. However, I am saying that Yahweh is done with the Jewish people as Jewish people in the sense that there is no a longer a covenant in force in which that particular ethnic identity carries covenant-specific rights and privileges. In fact, I would even say that neither is there any role left for the Jewish people as Jewish people in the NT’s eschatological scenario, their last act in that drama was the destruction of Judea in the 1st century.

    All that said, I don’t avoid the label of supersessionism even if what I am saying does not qualify under the label in the technical sense because it does qualify under the label in the informal sense of Jewish-Christians like Michelle Van Loons as I am saying that “[her] religious/ethnic identity as a Jew no longer matters now that [she is] a Christian” (taken from her definition of the term above). Any theology that says that Yahweh is done with the Jewish people as Jewish people can’t avoid the label of supersessionism, which is why I think it’s best to take the bull by the horns in this case.

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    I think there are some things to learn from both Israel today and messianic (Jewish) Christians.

    1. Israel is a kind of model to the church of what it means to be a peculiar people and living a distinct or alternative enbodied lifestyle differently than the world. It seems like we ignore Israel to our peril as the church continues to become more and more like the world and does not have much of a clue how to climb out of the swamp of worldliness.

    2. I sometimes think we inadvertantly tells Jews that if they are going to become Christians, they need to get rid of their Jewish identity and distinctives and be assimilated in our Gentile churches. It’s no wonder so many Messianic Jews have felt compelled to add another division by starting their own churches so they can as Jews worship as Jews. We have done what Paul is arguing against in Galatians in reverse. It was anathema to Paul to make Gentiles become Jews first before they became Christians. It seems like some churches do the same thing in reverse today to Jews :-(

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    NW #23:

    My, my. You said: ” I am saying that Yahweh is done with the Jewish people as Jewish people in the sense that there is no a longer a covenant in force in which that particular ethnic identity carries covenant-specific rights and privileges.”

    Of course we can interpret Paul’s theological statements with a wide latitude. But first, your view really makes me wonder why any Christian should trust God to remain faithful when he can break “forever” promises as you claim he can. Second, a few Pauline statements really don’t sound like your view at all: “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew,” “the calling and gifts of God are irrevocable,” “they are enemies for the sake of the gospel but as regards election they are beloved,” “what advantage has the Jew? much in every way!;” “to them belongs the adoption and the Glory” (Glory meaning the Presence of God in the Temple, see Paula Frederiksen on this — Rom 11:2, 29, 28; 3:1; 9:4-5).

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    CGC #24:

    I have blogged about Reverse Galatianism, as I call it. Galatianism: “you must be a Jew to be kosher to God.” Reverse Galatianism: “you may not remain a Jew (adhere to Jewish covenantal responsibilities) if you want to be in Christ.”

  • CGC

    Hi Derek,
    Galatianism, interesting :-)

  • NW

    Derek,

    First of all, I would say (along with Paul I believe) that Israel brought about the annulment of the covenant they had with Yahweh when they crucified Jesus. So, it’s not as if Yahweh is directly responsible for annulling the covenant he had with Israel even if the circumstances by which that took place were foretold and orchestrated by him.

    Secondly, I would dispute the existence of the “forever” promises you are talking about as part of a much larger beef I have with the usual translation of עולם in the OT. On my view, there were no “forever” promises made to the physical descendants of Israel contra to what you see in the translations. So, no problem there either. The kind of supersessionism I’m arguing for cleans up the mess nicely.

  • http://www.beyondcreationscience.com/ Norman

    But Derek,

    You need to quote Rom 9:6-9 in Paul’s contextual background as well.

    I like to put this discussion in another light as far as semantics go. The church began with Adam and his progeny who bore the “seed” of the messiah. From Adam on ward we have the church but according to Paul it got off track and sought a works mentality and through Moses that transgression was multiplied. Christ redeemed the ancient church but its origins were long established according to Gen 4:26 in which that was the time when men began to call on the name of YHWH. That is the understanding of Hebrews chapter 11 in which there is a clear history of the ancients who are worthy of inclusion with Christ even before Abraham.

    The Body of Christ is the body of the faithful to YHWH throughout time, even those who saw the city and country from afar. I would caution against reading the language literally regarding the land promises as a physical reality. IMO that is simply using a hermeneutic that picks and chooses what not to take literally according to one’s presupposition. The only way to make Paul’s land promises work regarding Israel is to read them as literal out of his overall spiritual context which creates inconsistent theology IMO. A hybrid reading of scriptures by picking and choosing what we want to call literal and symbolic has been the bane of the church from the earliest of times. Consistency doesn’t support a physical understanding of the land promises and we drift into the same fundamental errors that the dispensationalist falls into when we start down that path.

    I would also highlight for those who have begun recognizing that Genesis is not to be taken literally should also apply their newly acquired skills when reading the OT and NT. Paul wasn’t inconsistent in his application of allegory and neither should we be. Hermeneutical consistency is the key to not running amok over the narrative story. It should be obvious that taking the land promises literally is what is causing all this confusion.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    NW #28:

    You said of my people, the Jewish people, that we crucified Jesus?

    When did I crucify Jesus, NW? When did any of the 15 million Jews in the world today crucify Jesus? That deicide claim you are making is classic anti-Semitism. If you meant it in some other way, please clarify. But you did use this point to buttress the notion that Jewish people have no status as the chosen people today. Therefore, you must have meant it as it sounded: that my people today are being judged still as Jesus-crucifiers. That is an abominable belief. Are you ignorant about the history of Christian anti-Semitism? Are you not aware of the places that false Jews-killed-Jesus claim has taken the world (WWII)?

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Norman #29:

    Interesting that Paul calls his people “enemies for the sake of the gospel” in Rom 11:29. Yet you wish to say he is not talking about Jews but about Christians?

  • http://www.beyondcreationscience.com/ Norman

    Derek,

    i’m not sure why you think Rom 11:29 is a conndrum. The times in which Paul is writing this letter is under duress from the non believing Jews. I would call that being an enemy of the Gospel since the faithful were charged with spreading the Gospel to the known Roman world and they were suffering under the Jewish scourge against them. At least Acts leads one to believe that is the case.

    Rom 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,

    Paul already has outlined in Rom 9 that Israel was special historically but tradition doesn’t overide obedience as Paul clearly outlines. Derek you really need to deal with Rom 9:6-9 otherwise it seems to me you are doing some proof texting.

    Moses prefigured Israel in the OT by dying outside the land because in the land of milk and honey the Law would not sustain eternal life and a Right Relationship with God.

  • NW

    Derek,

    Relax, I’m just relaying the theological perspective of the NT which is that that particular generation of Jewish people who lived in the 1st century are responsible for killing Jesus (Acts 3:15; 1 Thess 2:14-15), evidently the writers of the NT didn’t think that delivering him over to Pilate got that generation off the hook. Moreover, from the perspective of the NT whatever punishment they had coming to them on account of this and other such “abominations” took place in the 1st century destruction of Judea at the hand of the Roman armies so it would certainly be grossly inappropriate for people to continue to hold such things that took place in biblical history against the Jewish people today especially when they’ve already suffered the consequences for their actions according to the same history.

    Finally, keep in mind that I’m just trying to share with people what I think the NT is actually saying, that’s all. If you think I’m interpreting the NT wrongly then tell me how I am doing so.

  • lwbvl

    To all those supersessionists I have a pop quiz:

    (but first to NW: Jews didn’t kill Jesus, GENTILES did. therefore, we’re all participants of his death, appropriate isn’t it?)

    Pop Quiz:

    1. Was the (national) rejection of Jesus a big surprise to God or was Jesus keeping an ancient appointment?

    2. When was Paul given authority to overrule Jesus’ teachings and the entire bible that they, as Jews, read from (the “Old Testament”)?

    3. Based on Jer 31:30-33 Who is the New Covenant specifically made with? And what would it take to annul it vs 34-36) Did Paul annul Jeremiah? If you say “yes” where is his authority to do so? It should begin with something like “thus sayeth the LORD.”

    4. If your promised (written) inheritance was stripped of you (even after repeatedly saying it would never happen) and given to another instead, stating that some other person was now the “NEW you” what would that say about the Benefactor’s character?

    (Honestly, I wouldn’t have any reason the trust such an individule, much less worship)

    Do you supersessionists really consider how you smear the name of God by clinging to and promoting this?

  • NW

    Derek,

    Basically, I think Paul went around telling his fellows Jews that in killing Jesus they had inflicted the self-maledictory covenant curse that their covenant god had bound to himself when he entered into a covenant relationship with them at Sinai long ago (cf. Gal 3:13) and in doing so had brought about the annulment of the covenant they had enjoyed with said god (Heb 8:13; 9:15-17). I can only imagine what kind of stiff news this might have sounded like to a pious 1st century Jew waiting for the promised restoration of Israel, which is why it’s not surprising that we find Paul and others trying to soften the blow in various parts of the NT (e.g. it was done in ignorance according to the purpose and foreknowledge of God in Acts 2:22-23; 3:17-18, God did this in order to release them from the law so that he can be married to them anew in Rom 7:1-6). As you can imagine, Paul’s Jewish audiences frequently didn’t buy it according to Acts and ran him out on a rail numerous times, after all it was pretty offensive message to them.

  • lwbvl

    NW,
    Jesus himself said that he was not speaking on his own authority, that if he did it would be meaningless. Rather, he was speaking from the Father’s authority and that his hearers could ascertain the validity of what he said by reading and recalling the scriptures?

    Remember what he said to the two on the road to Emmaus? “oh foolish people! So unwilling to put your trust in everything the prophets spoke!” Lk 24:25-27

    Jesus had a high view of scripture and drew all his teachings from it, and respected the authority of it.
    Yet you claim that Paul can and DID speak from his own authority and was perfectly correct in doing so.

    If you find yourself defending a doctrine that is foreign to the Tanakh and to Jesus and using Paul as the creator of that doctrine, you’ve got a problem.

  • NW

    lwbvl,

    “first to NW: Jews didn’t kill Jesus, GENTILES did”

    That’s not how the NT (not me!) assigns the blame (Mt 21:35-39; 27:24-25; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15; 1 Thess 2:14-15), see my comment at 33 for more clarification.

    Now to your pop quiz:

    (1) It was not a surprise as it was part of the eschatological scenario of the NT. The covenant made at Sinai would have to be done away with before the eschatological new covenant could be confirmed.

    (2) He wasn’t, Paul taught the same stuff as Jesus and the Hebrew Bible (well, in my opinion at least).

    (3) The new covenant is made with the new Israel that includes people from every nation and in effect is promised not to be done away with as the first one was (Ps 89:30-37; Jer 31:35-37; Dan 7:14). The eschatologial new covenant is the ultimate redemptive reality to which the covenant made at Sinai was only a precursor.

    (4) The covenant made at Sinai was never promised to last forever (at least according to my reading of the OT), see my comment at 28 for more clarification.

    “Do you supersessionists really consider how you smear the name of God by clinging to and promoting this?”

    Let’s keep it civil.

  • lwbvl

    NW,
    The NT account says that gentile Romans beat, tortured, and crucified Jesus. The Jews didn’t crucify as a means of execution, that was a Roman practice. The Jews gave him over to be executed and bear a responsibility, but Gentiles carried it out. My point, in an effort to be concise and NOT offensive, is that Jews and non Jews are all responsible and that is fitting since he died for all humanity. You’re version, IMO, leads to the attitude that the (bad) Jews killed him, and now he has made (good) non- Jews his people. At least this is how I read your statement.

    As to your answer on 1) This is your opinion of what the scripture says, but I dont see that at all laid out.

    2) What you make Paul mean by his statements is foreign to Jesus and OT IMO.

    3) What you say about the NCovenant isn’t what the actual text says: it’s made with the house of Israel and Judah and the whole chapter points out that it is literal, ethnic Jews he’s talking to and about.

    I do believe I’m being civil, just very proctetive of God. I believe if you were to do as I mentioned and pretend it was your written inheritance and promises stripped from you and given to another, (but you do get to keep the curses as another has pointed out) you wouldn’t find that person upright, would you?

    My question is if God can go against his word and strip Israel of being his “first born” or his “spouse” and the “apple of his eye” and if he will remove the engravings of Israel on his hands and replace them with Christians, then what bases does any Christian have for security? He may have already done that to us too and we just don’t know it!

    Hopefully you understand my point…

  • John Inglis

    Given that God tells us in scripture that he deals with nations qua nations, it seems quite reasonable to suppose that he can deal with modern Israel as a nation apart from anything he might do in relation to salvation history. Moreover, he could even be recompensing a racial/ethnic group for the evils suffered during the holocaust.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Norman #32:

    If you look at your own comment for a second you will see you had a brain-slip or that you don’t know what prooftexting means. You said I need to deal with Romans 9:6-9 (which is YOUR prooftext) or am guilty of prooftexting!

    As it happens, I am keeping my comments brief and not writing essays here. I am well-read in Second Temple Judaism and becoming well-read in the Jewish genre known as midrash. Paul makes numerous midrash-style (homiletical) applications from scripture. His mind (and hopefully ours too) is supple enough to understand both sides of what he is saying in Romans 9-11. Paul equally argues that being Jewish does not justify before God (the belief that it does is known in our time as covenantal nomism, Paul called it “works of the Law”) and also that Israel’s election is eternal and irrevocable. It is not difficult to understand that Paul believes we Jews need Yeshua (Jesus) and have an obligation to believe in him. There are better blessings (superior promises as Hebrews says) for us Jews when we know Messiah. Paul uses scripture midrashically in Romans 9:6-9 and many other places, to address theology. If you read the academic literature on midrash as a genre, you will find it was often used as a way to express theology. Paul is capable of showing midrashically that gentiles are included in Abraham, that Israel needs faith in Yeshua, and also that Israel’s election is unconditional, free, and irrevocable.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    NW #37:

    So let me guess: when Jesus said “forgive them, Father, they know not what they do,” he must have meant the Romans, right? But any statement of judgment means the Jews, yes. Good hermeneutic (not).

    Is it possible that statements about the synagogues in the diaspora persecuting Christians should not be taken as timeless blame on the Jewish people (a la 1 Thess 2:14-15)?

    You say it was only that generation of Jews that was to blame — really, only a few hundred were involved in the plot against Jesus. But all Jews of that generation were to blame? Furthermore, you say it was only that generation, but you claim our people lost all the promises of the Hebrew Bible through the action of a few hundred of our people. Man! Christianity is in trouble! Have you read a church history book, NW? I hate to think what this mindchanging-God you believe in is going to do in response to the evils of some Christians in some time periods. Whew.

  • http://www.beyondcreationscience.com/ Norman

    Derek,

    I don’t discount your abilities as an excellent student and scholar of the scriptures as you have my deep respect, but it doesn’t keep me from challenging you on this particular issue. And yes I realize that proof texting lies in the eyes of the beholder. My point is that I think you are not dealing sufficiently with Paul’s contextual implications regarding 9:6-9 and the ramifications it has for the totality of Romans 9-11. In my opinion it sets the tone and the definition of whom Rom 11 is referring to when it says that “all Israel” will be saved. All Israel in Paul’s Midrash interpretation can be derived from an understanding that the fullness of the Gentiles will come in and complete the prophetic obligation as a Midrash interpretation and application would support. Once the Gospel has been spread to the known Roman world then the prophecy has been fulfilled from the vantage point of covenant completion (again from a 2T Midrash understanding). It doesn’t obviously mean that every soul in the world will have heard the Gospel literally in Paul’s Generation but the essence of the prophecy will have reached the practical boundaries of the OT and NT oikoumene.

    Now regarding Israel’s election being irrevocable: I agree as it was built upon the promise of the “seed” and not “seeds”.

    I just do not jump from a Midrash interpretation to a literal one when it seems obvious from an in-depth study of OT and NT scriptures that the land promises are not meant literally and physically. That is why Jesus reassured Pilate that he didn’t need to fear a physical army that He could obviously raise within Israel if that had been His intentions. I don’t expect people to buy that idea though until they have become quite conversant in large sections of OT such as Hosea, Ezekiel and Revelation in the NT.

    By the way Derek, 2T literature is where I spend much of my time investments and I’m not going to be someone who needs to be brought up to speed as I see it as a key to understanding first century mindsets. In fact I would venture that a lack of understanding of 2T literature has caused the historical church to miss much of the messianic message.

    You also need to understand that I’m not anti-Jewish and in fact I deeply appreciate much of the work that their scholarship brings. I owe much to Umberto Cassuto regarding some of my Genesis formulations. It really bothers me though that whenever we have these discussions that messianic Jews often attempt to frame those who oppose a literal reading of the land promises as anti-Semitic when it’s really a hermeneutic and biblical scholarly investigation.

    Derek, I just read your response to NW#37 and your way over the top with your response there. You really need to lighten up a little. When you encounter people who can make coherent biblical arguments against your thesis doesn’t mean you need to go the ad hominen approach in order to undermine them. It may simply mean you need to make an adjustment and seek a deeper clarification of what NW is presenting.

  • NW

    Derek,

    The perspective of the NT is that the nation of Israel was about to be punished for the entirety of her wickedness within one generation. The summary indictment of Israel in Mt 23:29-36 nicely captures the thinking of the time.

    “Furthermore, you say it was only that generation, but you claim our people lost all the promises of the Hebrew Bible through the action of a few hundred of our people.”

    No, the promise to participate in Israel’s restoration is freely given to everyone who believes and follows Jesus, which includes the Jewish people along with every other people. There is no nation that is excluded from this grand invitation to enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh as part of the eschatological new covenant, if you closely read the prophetic literature in your Hebrew Bible you’ll see that this promise does not exclusively belong to any particular nation. Not sure what you’re complaining about here.

  • NW

    Norman,

    “Derek, I just read your response to NW#37 and your way over the top with your response there. You really need to lighten up a little. When you encounter people who can make coherent biblical arguments against your thesis doesn’t mean you need to go the ad hominen approach in order to undermine them. It may simply mean you need to make an adjustment and seek a deeper clarification of what NW is presenting.”

    Thank you for this. I’m not trying to provoke people I’m just trying layout my views and respond to valid concerns and/or criticisms.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Without wading into the deep end here……

    I was taught over and over in my RC upbringing that Matt 27:24-25 was clearly a ploy by Pilate to expunge himself of guilt. There is no doubt, the Romans killed him at the request of the Jews. The gentiles are not without guilt in this. I can’t imagine interpreting that act as a honest and true act on Pilate’s part, but then again, I am not a scholar.

  • NW

    DRT,

    Clearly, the Romans killed Jesus and I’m sure it was every bit as obvious to the writers of the NT as it is to us; therefore, when we see the NT making claims to the effect that the Jewish people crucified Jesus (e.g. Acts 2:23, 36) common sense behooves us that such a statement should not be understood literally.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    NW #46:

    Don’t be a surface reader of the Bible. Engage its historical, literary, and cultural context.

    Acts 2:23, 36. Let me let you in on something about this passage, NW. This is a Jew (not a Christian) criticizing a crowd with some of the very people who plotted against Jesus. And even he was nicer toward them than you are in your theology concerning all Jews who will ever live. Concerning the crowd which included many who directly or indirectly were involved in the plot against Jesus, Peter urged them to take hold of the promises that had always been theirs and still were. But most importantly note the difference — criticism of his own people as opposed to you, an outsider, calling Jews Christ-crucifiers; he addressed a crowd that actually had guilty people in it whereas your theology condemns millions of (Jewish) people for a crime they did not commit.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Norman #42:

    You said I was engaging in ad hominem (ironically NW said I and my people crucified Jesus, but that is not a personal attack?). Further you said my rebuke of NW was “way over the top.” Really? I’ve had a few emails from Jewish friends who thanked me and said they could not believe a person in our time on a forum where educated people discuss theology would say of our people: “they crucified Jesus.” That you cannot understand why this statement is hateful to us is also surprising, Norman. You see it has been our history to experience blood libels, confinement to the Jewish ghettos, being rounded up and questioned with torture, having our scholars forced into public debates which would result in riots if we did well in the debates, having Crusaders come back from the Middle East and destroy Jewish villages, and ultimately having a 20th century regime play on Christian anti-Semitism to make the church complicit in the Holocaust. The “they crucified Jesus” theme was always central.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    Norman #42:

    So I just went to the site you have linked to your name. I notice the book being advertised there is endorsed by the Preterist Research Institute. Is Preterism your theological position?

    Would I be remiss in suggesting that Preterism has been frequently known to use the Christians-replace-Jews and Jews-crucified-Jesus statements as platforms in its theology? Anyone here know more about the rhetoric of the Preterist groups? Am I off-base in this perception?

  • NW

    Derek,

    I showed you where the NT claims again and again that the Jewish people are primarily responsible for the death of Jesus (i.e. this isn’t coming from a country boy like myself) and I also explained to you that in the theological narrative of the NT God punished them for all their wickedness in the events of the 1st century (Mt 23:29-36), not just the death of Jesus. I can’t help it that others have come along later and appropriated some of that language for their own evil purposes nor does my own reading of the theological narrative of the NT even come remotely close to justifying such behavior. What’s going on here is that you’re refusing to see the theological context in which those statements were made and in which I am trying to explain the narrative of the NT because then you’d have to get off your moral high horse.

  • http://DerekLeman.com/Musings Derek Leman

    NW #50:

    You showed nothing. You asserted something. I judge your evidence to have failed. Since you believe your own arguments, in your mind you showed something.

    It is not a moral high horse. It is death to my people. The fact that you have not recanted, apologized, or lessened your tone confirms that you really are highly committed your your Jews-crucified-Jesus theology. There is still time to reconsider, NW.

  • NW

    Derek,

    “It is not a moral high horse. It is death to my people. The fact that you have not recanted, apologized, or lessened your tone confirms that you really are highly committed your your Jews-crucified-Jesus theology. There is still time to reconsider, NW.”

    Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound right now? According to you I’m speaking “death to [your] people” and you’re not firmly mounted on a moral high horse in saying so. Puh-leeze.

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    Can we all admit that we know in part and possibly God’s plans are bigger than we know? It is interesting to note that there is this tension in the Gospel of John where he says both “salvation is from the Jews” (Jn.4:22) as well as to the Jewish leaders that there father was the devil (8:44). Somehow people need to acknowledge this tension and resolve it in ways that does not silence or ignore various texts of Scripture.

    There is both a rejection of Israel (or hardening) as well as God’s electing grace is with them (not partially or done away with but to the end in regards to the gentiles grafted in and a chosen remnant of Jews fullfilled or completed in Christ). People can argue about the land if they want but the early Christian fathers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian all expected a tangible restoration of Israel. Somehow Jewish and Christian theology has got to do better in bridging the divide between Jews and Gentiles that Paul envisions as coming together in and through Christ.

  • NW

    CGC,

    The problem is that people like Derek are offended by the NT’s idea that the Jewish people are primarily responsible for the death of Jesus because of how that idea has been used to justify evil in the past. However, the solution is not to pretend as if that language isn’t there and doesn’t inform the theology of the world’s largest religion but to deal with it head-on and properly understand its role in the theological narrative of the NT so as to prevent future abuses.

  • http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profile/Norm Norman

    Derek

    Yes, I adhere to a Preterist view of scripture. If you want to pigeonhole me that’s your prerogative. Scot is a partial Preterist and I’m a full Preterist and if you want to define a Preterist then you will have to interview everyone out there as I haven’t found any two that see eye to eye across the board on all subjects. The reason is simple because reading and understanding Biblical literature is a huge challenge and requires extensive research; something that most simply don’t have enough time for without giving up their day job.

    Yes there are some Preterist out there that I want nothing to do with concerning their theology and some of my closest and dearest friends are YEC and died in the wool rapture believers. However we have Christ in common and typically encourage each other in that realm. I save my theological discussions for my blog site along with other blogs where we supposedly are able to discuss issues openly from a seeker perspective and learn from each other.

    I’m hoping we can continue our dialog in that spirit. I can see that this is a touchy subject for you and I’m inclined to respect your concerns although I disagree with some of your conclusions.

  • CGC

    Hi NW,
    In some ways you and Derek are more talking past each other than talking to each other. Derek raises a few texts and so do you. So let’s look more closely at the texts you list in regards to the Jews being primarly responsible for Jesus death.

    A few guidelines first:

    1. Can we all distinguish between anti-judaism and anti-semitism. If we merge these two together, then it may even appear to some people that the Jewish writers themselves are anti-semitic which would be nonsensical. I also believe someone can be anti-judaism while not being anti-semitic. Of course Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians are in a different religion than Judaism. Obviously something happened unfortunately that has led to this divide (unless people want to blame Jesus, he seemed less concerned about religion and more about reform of Judaism or the true interpretation of the Mosaic law with himself as its fulfillment).

    2. This is a sensitive and touchy issue for some. Let’s not be insensitive to the wounds or needs of others. The Jewish/Gentile issue can be just as explosive as race issues between people of different color. This issue is more than just talking theology for some but can cut deep and misunderstandings can happen easily from both sides of the river.

    3. Questions concerning Matt.21:35-39; 27:24-25; Acts 2:23, 31; 3:15; 1 Thess.2:14-5 (were the texts I saw you list earlier NW).

    a) There are positive texts about the Jews in various contexts so I would hope these could also be brought into the discussion or it does seem to paint a pretty negative view of the Jews or possibly lead to a one-sided discussion.

    b) In regards to Matt.27:25, taking it to refer only to the Jews of Jerusalem or possibly the next generation of the coming destruction of the temple in 70CE. First off, this in itself should not be viewed as anti-semitic. I believe I also heard NW say the Romans did kill Jesus as well and spiritually I would add, all our sins Jews and Gentiles alike, Christ died for the ungodly.

    c) Matt.21 (Jesus parable of the wicked tenents): Did you suggest this is referring to the Jews? Because v.45 says the chief priests and the Pharisees, it was about them. To read this text as God’s kingdom is going to be taken away from the Jews and given to another people, the church (that is not what this parable is teaching). The “you” is not Israel or the Jewish people but the chief priests and Pharisees.

    Well, that’s my start . . .

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    Here are a few comments in regards to Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15; and 1 Thess.2:14-15.

    1. Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15 is aimed at Jewish listeners who some were possibly actually part of the crowd that called for Jesus execution. This is what good preaching does, it is directed to a particular audience and social location. Peter sermon I believe cuts across the grain of those who believe the old covenant of Moses is for the Jews and the New covenant of Jesus is for the Gentiles has the whole house of Israel needs the Messiah, and not just the Gentiles. Nor should this be read as all Jews or anyone from the house of Israel is solely responsible for Jesus death. If Peter’s audience would have been Roman Gentiles, he could have said similar things to them. The bottom line of these texts is certainly not Gentile innocence versus Jewish guilt.

    2. Concerning 1 Thess.2:14-15 again the context of our own countrymen or fellow Jews is not that all Jews are against Jesus but it specifically about certain Jews who opposed the Jesus movement. If one looks at a detailed reading of those truly responsible for planning Jesus death, it is not all Jews or even all Jewish religous leaders but it is Jewish opponents of Jesus, never Jews in general.

    When one reads for example Matt.26:4, 59-61; 27:1 for example, it is the opponents of Jesus who are the culprits (mainly scribes and Jewish elders). And the “all” is about those who participated. I think it would be a misreading to think for example that all the religious leaders, 100 percent of them were against Jesus. Obviously Nicodemus and others tried to follow Jesus more covertly. I suspect anyone who was not totally on board was not invitied to the trial of Jesus (or some possibly left in sheer disgust with utter increduality at what was happening?).

    3. Lastly, we all need to be more alert and in tune to the contextual, literary features of writing back then, as well as the historical-cultural background. There are so many myths and misunderstandings by Christians today that I don’t even know where to begin.

    One I have heard my whole life is if anyone calls you a “Pharisee,” you know that is not a compliment. Pharisee has become a derogatory term almost synonomous with “hypocrite” or an ugly “self-righteous” spirit. But this is a gross misreading of scripture. Not all the Pharisees opposed Jesus and there is a whole group that have become Christians in Acts.15:5 for example. They were a respectable group of Jewish leaders and we do them a great disservice to over-generalize them as all bad. Even Paul was a Pharisee which was not a badge of dishonor but one of honor to those around him.

  • ZS

    Admirable as it may, the civilized discussion here can’t hide the fact that well-argued opinions that, in the name of holy writ still insist on supersessionism is a scandal. Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel agitate Christians, now because of the unresolved conflict with the Arab world that only serves as a tool to strengthen this age-old Christian anti-Semitic theology. The Norman-like comments (#24) are repelling, for me, and probably for any other decent Jewish person. As of today, most Christians still fail to realize that thier good news has nothing good to offer to the Jews as people chosen by God to be a light to the world, yes even in thier unbelief.

  • CGC

    Hi ZS,
    My comments were positive comments about Israel in #24. What was so repelling there or did you mean somebody else’s remarks on a different number?

  • lwbvl

    ZS #58

    The “Norman comments” are equally repelling and repugnant for me, a believer in Jesus, as well. If God will break his covenant with Israel/ Jews, there is zero hope for any non-Jew, for all the blessings that come to the nations (non- Jews) come through his covenants with Israel and there’s no place for all the promises (yet to be fulfilled) to “land” if there are no Jews.

    Additionally, large chunks of God’s word must be ignored or cut out to achieve this reading, (including from the NT) After all, the New Covenant is made with the House of Israel and Judah, not Greece, Rome, or America. (Jer. 31, Ez. 18)

    I love the Emmaus Road encounter Jesus had with his 2 distraught disciples (Lk 24:25) where he said “Foolish people! So unwilling to put your trust in everything the prophets spoke!”

    “everything” the prophets spoke!

    Lk 24: 26 Didn’t the Messiah have to die like this before entering his glory?” 27 Then, starting with Moshe and all the prophets, he explained to them the things that can be found throughout the Tanakh concerning himself.”

    So, if he used the “OT” as truth, there is no excuse for his followers to ignore those very scriptures.

  • ZS

    CGC: You are right of course. I referred to Norman’s #10. Sorry. While at it, regarding your comment there, at least the American Messinaic movement isn’t Jewish, and how can it be if 80% percent of its constituency isn’t Jewish? The main reason for forming separate “Jewish churches” was (and to large dergree still is) evangelism or, taking some form of Jewish identity in hope to save some. There is much more to say about this but not now and not here.


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