A Little More on the Reality of ‘Replacementism’
Theologian R. Kendall Soulen opens his book about supercessionism in church history with an explanation of what supercessionism is:
According to this teaching, God chose the Jewish people after the fall of Adam in order to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior. After Christ came, however, the special role of the Jewish people came to an end and its place was taken by the church, the new Israel. – The God of Israel and Christian Theology, 1-2
This description matches our basic definition of supercessionism as “the switching out of “old Israel” with “new”, true Israel.” I think I have already proven that this teaching exists. I add to previous quotes this one from the Adventist theologian Hans LaRondelle. He is referencing Matthew 21:43:
This solemn decision implies that Israel would no longer be the people of God and would be replaced by a people that would accept the Messiah and His message of the kingdom of God. Which new “people” did Christ have in mind?… In short, His Church (“My Church,” Matthew 16:18) would replace the Christ-rejecting nation. – Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy, 101 (Author’s emphasis)
Someone might object to my citing a Seventh-Day Adventist to support my position, but before they do I think they should look up how many times this book is recommended by covenant theologians (I got the book after seeing it recommended by O. Palmer Robertson). Another scholar who recommends LaRondelle is Dennis Johnson. Along with this endorsement Johnson also seems comfortable with the term “supercessionism”. He defines it as follows:
“Supercessionism” refers to the New Testament’s assertions and implications that the church is the legitimate heir to the benefits once promised ancient Israel – Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim, 6 n. 7.
He does not question this definition. He believes it.
Different and the Same
Even though Johnson’s view of supercession may fairly be said to differ from my definition, his approval of LaRondelle’s book, which, as I have stated, is hardly unique, shows that the basic ideas of the two coincide. We had previously seen the same sort of thing in Monergism’s and Greg Beale’s support of Charles Provan. This is one of the things that make it so difficult to separate one from the other. Here is another prominent voice:
On the surface of it this is the end of the nation of Israel as the chosen people of God. They have been tried and found wanting. God’s patience has been exhausted. – John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, (2nd ed.), 216
So one main teaching of supercessionism is that God has done with the nation of Israel. He has not, please note, done with the Jews as sinners who need saving. But He is through with national Israel. National Israel has been superseded by the multi-national church. Gerstner provides more information on this by focusing on the spiritual nature of the new Israel:
[T]rue membership in Israel is ultimately a matter of spiritual rather than physical relationship… Paul teaches that Israel and the church constitute an organic unity. They are the same olive tree with the Gentiles of the church being grafted into the tree that was Israel (Romans 11:17-21). – Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, (2nd ed.), 212 cf. also 225, 236
A similar sentiment can be found in a more recent Reformed Baptist work:
By gospel reformation Christ spiritually transforms God’s people from Hebrew Israel under the old covenant to Christian Israel under the new. – Greg Nichols, Covenant Theology: A Reformed and Baptist Perspective on God’s Covenants, 115
What CT’s like to call “transformation” looks very like another word for types of supercession. For this position to have credence the national promises to Israel must be seen not as unilateral pledges those Israelites who trusted in Yahweh in OT times and which included the national, geographical, monarchical and cultic aspects of the various covenants. These covenant promises must be altered. If they are altered then they are to a large extent superseded. (more…)