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Jesus is the recapitulation of Israel; or in fact of God’s life itself in the kameronvia historia, according to Patristic theologian Irenaeus. I want to share what Duke Divinity School theologian J Kameron Carter has to say about this in his book Race. I will want to revisit the substance of this at a later date, until then, here is what Carter has written in regard to Irenaeus’ view of how God in Christ “re-does” “re-lives” “re-capitulates” creation, Israel-Mary, and Godself in his lived life for the nations:

In arguing this way, it is as if Irenaeus is saying that the recapitulation of all things in Christ occurs in a concentric feedback loop. Creation itself is a concentrated expression of the love the Father has for the eternal Son through the Holy Spirit. That is, it is a condensed narrative that captures without diluting the rhetorical plotline of the depths of God’s love for the Son, a love that embraces within itself even that which is not God (i.e. creation). In this sense, creation in its own way recapitulates the divine life as the “structure of supreme love.” But then as if even this condensed story were still too prolix, YHWH presents the story of Israel, beginning with the call of Abram-become-Abraham to create ex nihilo a people who before did not exist, as a compendium of the story of creation, which too came into being. And so to grasp the story of Israel is to grasp the story of creation. And finally again, in an effort to contain what yet appears to be too elongated a narrative filled with plot twists, reversals, and surprises, Christ himself “cuts short” the story of Israel into the résumé of his own material body and historical life, only then to have this loop back to the story of creation, but now under the aspect of the second Eve. He is the biography of creation. But in so being, he proves to be God’s own autobiography, God’s writing of Godself.[1]

Rich. Too rich for me to try and engage with at the moment (due to time constraints), but hopefully you grasp some of the point, and see what is going on in the theology of Irenaeus, at least as mediated through Carter’s wit.

[1] J Kameron Carter, Race: A Theological Account, kindle loc. 851.

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It seems apropos to repost this post that I wrote awhile ago, given the current and ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. My post starts talking about geo-political realities, but breaks off into the proper theological realities that I believe ought to fund any real discussion about Israel, God, Christians, and the Nations. Here’s the post:

Israel is and always has been at the center of the storm, in world history, so to speak. Whether we are doing biblical studies or watching world news, Israel, one way or the other makes its way into the cycle of discussion. For some (Christians) the nation of Israel is the whole point of human history; Israel, for them, is the orientation and purpose for all of the biblical covenants. We might be able to go so far as to say that for some (Christians), Jesus Christ himself is subordinate to the nation of Israel, when, at least, it comes to understanding the point and trajectory of world history. For others (both Christians and non-Christians) the nation of Israel really isn’t that important —especially geopolitically— in fact for others, the nation of Israel (contemporaneously) is an oppressive regime who function as the taskmasters of the Palestinians. No matter how Israel is understood, whether biblically, theologically, politically, historically, or currently; Israel always seems to be able to wiggle itself into the cross hairs of almost any other group’s thought who is not Israel.

This phenomenon is not something that has happened by chance; in fact, I would argue that the primary reason Israel, to one degree or another, is at the center point of much consideration is a spiritual theological one. Indeed, for the Christian, and thus the world (because the Christian is for the world, in a particular way), Israel’s life is highlighted because they have a critical role to play in mediating the real purpose and point of history into the world. Because God covenanted with them, by grace, the nation of Israel became the particular humanity through which God’s Son, Jesus Christ would come (and has) to be the Savior of the world. Without Israel, because God chose such, we would not have the proper categories or antennae to know God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. It is this point that Thomas Torrance hammers home in a way that simply won’t let you not appreciate the nation of Israel in a properly formed understanding of their place in relation to God in Christ. Torrance writes:

Thus the knowledge of God, of Christ, and of the Jews are all bound up inseparably together, so that when at last God came into the world he came as a Jew. And to this very day Jesus remains a Jew while still the eternal Son of God. It is still through the story of Israel, through the Jewish soul shaped by the hand of God, through the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament and the Jewish scriptures of the New Testament church, the gospel comes to us, and that Jesus Christ is set before us face to face as Lord and saviour. Apart from this Old Testament prehistory and all the biblical revelation through Israel, we would not have the tools to grasp the knowledge of God; apart from the long history of the Jews we would not be able to recognise Jesus as the Son of God; apart from the suffering and agony of Israel we would not understand the cross of Calvary as God’s instrument to atone for sin and to enact once and for all his word of love and pardon and grace. Apart from the covenant forged in sheer grace with undeserving and rebellious Israel, and the unswerving faithfulness of the divine love, we would not be able to understand the mystery of our restoration to union with God in Jesus Christ. Apart from the context of Israel we could not even begin to understand the bewildering miracle of Jesus. The supreme instrument of God for the salvation of the world is Israel, and out of the womb of Israel, Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth — yet he was no mere instrument in the hands of God, but very God himself, come in person in the form of a servant, to work our from within our limitations and recalcitrance, and to bring to its triumphant completion, the redemption of mankind, and our restoration to fellowship with the very life of God himself. [Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation, 53-4.]

So without the nation of Israel, the world would be in trouble. But without Christ, the nation of Israel is just as lost as the rest of the nations who make up the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, in Christ. The only “pass” the nation of Israel gets is the same “pass” that we have all gotten in and through the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ as penultimately established in the cross work of his active life for all of us. The nation of Israel will always have a special place at the right hand of God, but ultimately that place gives way to its reality in Jesus Christ himself. What’s at the center of this whole discussion, at the end, really has nothing to do with ethnos, or nationality; instead, it has to do with the person of God’s life revealed in Jesus Christ, the servant from Israel. It is in Christ’s life “as” Israel, that Israel, and the rest of humanity is made one in the new humanity of Jesus Christ; and the dividing wall between the two is no more. So while Jesus would not be Jesus, by his gracious choice, without Israel; Israel and the Gentiles have the same standing in God through Christ, there is no distinction. It is through the new exalted humanity in Christ that Jew and Gentile alike has access to God by the same Spirit.

What does this do to all of the various emphases and ways in to thinking about Israel today? It radicalizes them, such that the nation of Israel, as particuarlized in Christ, is not something that we can fight over politically, it is not something that can be subordinated to the whims of our interpretive schemas; but instead, the nation of Israel, in Christ, is a personal someone who transcends all of our claims, and transcends in the concrete particularity of God’s life in the Jewish man from Nazareth. It radicalizes Israel, because it understands new Israel as the singular ‘seed’ of Abraham, distinct from, but inseparably related to the nation of Israel. It radicalizes the concept of Israel, because, in Christ, the new humanity, the point of Israel has provided the context for God in Christ to be revealed as Lord.

Israel is and always has been at the center of the storm, in world history, so to speak. Whether we are doing biblical studies or watching world news, Israel, one way or the other makes its way into the cycle of discussion. For some (Christians) the nation of Israel is the whole point of human history; Israel, for them, is the orientation and purpose for all of the biblical covenants. We might be able to go so far as to say that for some (Christians), Jesus Christ himself is subordinate to the nation of Israel, when, at least, it comes to understanding the point and trajectory of world history. For others (both Christians and non-Christians) the nation of Israel really isn’t that important —especially geopolitically— in fact for others, the nation of Israel (contemporaneously) is an oppressive regime who function as the taskmasters of the Palestinians. No matter how Israel is understood, whether biblically, theologically, politically, historically, or currently; Israel always seems to be able to wiggle itself into the cross hairs of almost any other group’s thought who is not Israel.

This phenomenon is not something that has happened by chance; in fact, I would argue that the primary reason Israel, to one degree or another, is at the center point of much consideration is a spiritual theological one. Indeed, for the Christian, and thus the world (because the Christian is for the world, in a particular way), Israel’s life is highlighted because they have a critical role to play in mediating the real purpose and point of history into the world. Because God covenanted with them, by grace, the nation of Israel became the particular humanity through which God’s Son, Jesus Christ would come (and has) to be the Savior of the world. Without Israel, because God chose such, we would not have the proper categories or antennae to know God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. It is this point that Thomas Torrance hammers home in a way that simply won’t let you not appreciate the nation of Israel in a properly formed understanding of their place in relation to God in Christ. Torrance writes:

Thus the knowledge of God, of Christ, and of the Jews are all bound up inseparably together, so that when at last God came into the world he came as a Jew. And to this very day Jesus remains a Jew while still the eternal Son of God. It is still through the story of Israel, through the Jewish soul shaped by the hand of God, through the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament and the Jewish scriptures of the New Testament church, the gospel comes to us, and that Jesus Christ is set before us face to face as Lord and saviour. Apart from this Old Testament prehistory and all the biblical revelation through Israel, we would not have the tools to grasp the knowledge of God; apart from the long history of the Jews we would not be able to recognise Jesus as the Son of God; apart from the suffering and agony of Israel we would not understand the cross of Calvary as God’s instrument to atone for sin and to enact once and for all his word of love and pardon and grace. Apart from the covenant forged in sheer grace with undeserving and rebellious Israel, and the unswerving faithfulness of the divine love, we would not be able to understand the mystery of our restoration to union with God in Jesus Christ. Apart from the context of Israel we could not even begin to understand the bewildering miracle of Jesus. The supreme instrument of God for the salvation of the world is Israel, and out of the womb of Israel, Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth — yet he was no mere instrument in the hands of God, but very God himself, come in person in the form of a servant, to work our from within our limitations and recalcitrance, and to bring to its triumphant completion, the redemption of mankind, and our restoration to fellowship with the very life of God himself. [Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation, 53-4.]

So without the nation of Israel, the world would be in trouble. But without Christ, the nation of Israel is just as lost as the rest of the nations who make up the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, in Christ. The only “pass” the nation of Israel gets is the same “pass” that we have all gotten in and through the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ as penultimately established in the cross work of his active life for all of us. The nation of Israel will always have a special place at the right hand of God, but ultimately that place gives way to its reality in Jesus Christ himself. What’s at the center of this whole discussion, at the end, really has nothing to do with ethnos, or nationality; instead, it has to do with the person of God’s life revealed in Jesus Christ, the servant from Israel. It is in Christ’s life “as” Israel, that Israel, and the rest of humanity is made one in the new humanity of Jesus Christ; and the dividing wall between the two is no more. So while Jesus would not be Jesus, by his gracious choice, without Israel; Israel and the Gentiles have the same standing in God through Christ, there is no distinction. It is through the new exalted humanity in Christ that Jew and Gentile alike has access to God by the same Spirit.

What does this do to all of the various emphases and ways in to thinking about Israel today? It radicalizes them, such that the nation of Israel, as particuarlized in Christ, is not something that we can fight over politically, it is not something that can be subordinated to the whims of our interpretive schemas; but instead, the nation of Israel, in Christ, is a personal someone who transcends all of our claims, and transcends in the concrete particularity of God’s life in the Jewish man from Nazareth. It radicalizes Israel, because it understands new Israel as the singular ‘seed’ of Abraham, distinct from, but inseparably related to the nation of Israel. It radicalizes the concept of Israel, because, in Christ, the new humanity, the point of Israel has provided the context for God in Christ to be revealed as Lord.

I have been reading Richard Bauckham’s The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation; I was spurned to read this because I read his smaller book The Theology of the Book of Revelation a few months ago, which was excellent and a must read. In fact I would say that if you haven’t read either of these books you haven’t really ever studied the book of Revelation. What I want to highlight is a bit of Bauckham’s discussion and identification of the Beast in the book of Revelation. Now, if your reading this as a dispensationalist you will be challenged (to say the least); but I think if you read Bauckham’s development in full you would be hard pressed to refute what he has to say. He looks at the internal structure of the book, and really presses the ‘Epistle’ genre of the book (then also the ‘Apocalyptic’ and ‘Prophetic’); resulting in taking seriously that John was writing for the seven churches he is speaking to in 1st century Graeco-Rome. Bauckham is at his best as he situates the apocalyptic genre of Revelation in its proper literary context. Meaning that he identifies how all of the picteresque and emotive language of Revelation was understood within its historical context, and what the prophetic significance would have been for these 1st century Christians; and then what it means for us today (by way of application). I uphold what Bauckham here communicates about the ‘Beast’, and I want to commend it to you for your consideration. What he brings out on the Beast and Empire presents a paradigm shifting proposition in the way that most Evangelical Christians have understood this amazing book. I am going to share this quote on the Beast and Empire from Bauckham, and then I will close with a few parting comments.

[T]he images of the beast will probably become most easily accessible to us as we realise that it was primarily in developing the theme of christological parody that John found the Nero legend useful. It enabled him to construct a history of the beast as paralleling the death, the resurrection and the parousia of Jesus Christ. Some interpretation of Revelation has made the theme of christological parody seem a mere creative fantasy which John projects onto the Roman Empire, which of course had no intention of aping the Christian story of Jesus. In fact, as we have seen, the christological parody corresponds to real features of history of the empire, to the character of the imperial cult, and to contemporary expectations of the future of the empire. It is a profound prophetic interpretation of the contemporary religio-political image of the empire, both in Rome’s own propaganda and in its subjects’ profoundest responses to Roman rule. This religio-political ideology, which John sees as a parody of the Christian claims about Christ, was no mere cover for the hard political realities: it entered deeply into the contemporary dynamics of power as they affected the lives of John’s contemporaries. He sees it as a deification of power. The empire’s success is founded on military might and people’s adulation of military might. By these standards Christ and the martyrs are the unsuccessful victims of the empire. Instead of worshipping the risen Christ who has won his victory by suffering witness to the truth, the world worships the beast whose ‘resurrection’ is the proof that this military might is invincible. The parallel between the ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’ of the beast and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ poses the issue of what is truly divine. Is it the beast’s apparent success which is worthy of religious trust and worship? Or is the apparent failure of Christ and the martyrs the true witness to the God who can be ultimately trusted and may alone be worshipped?

The ambiguity of the period of the beast’s reign, in which to earthly appearances the beast’s ‘resurrection’ has established his eternal kingdom, while those who acknowledge God’s rule are slaughtered by the beast, cannot be permanent. God’s kingdom must come. The parallel between the beast’s ‘parousia’ and Christ’s poses the issue of what will turn out ultimately to be divine, whose kingdom will prevail in the end. The cult of military power contains its own contradiction: the city which lived by military conquest will fall by military conquest. But beyond that, military power which aims only at its own absolute supremacy must prove a false messiah. It overreaches itself because it is the merely human grasping for what is truly only divine. It is only the parousia of Christ that can establish an eternal kingdom, because it is truly the coming of the eternal God who alone can be trusted with absolute supremacy.

The riddle of the number of the beast pointed specifically to Nero as the figure whose history and legend displayed, to those who had wisdom, the nature of the Roman Empire’s attempt to rival God. Any contemporary reappropriation of Revelation’s images that aims to expose the dynamics of power in the contemporary world in the light of the Gospel would also have to be specific. [Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 451-52]

Theological Implications

The first thing I want to draw our attention to is Bauckham’s last paragraph. What he is doing with this is delimiting the application of the book of Revelation to a particular set of boundaries. In other words, he is using its original audience and shape as determinative for how we can appropriate and apply it to our own context and situation today (just as in principle we should interpret the so called Minor Prophets or Book of the Twelve). What this does, by implication, is that it disallows the Dispensationalist interpretation of the book of Revelation. It won’t allow for providing the kind of the nitty-gritty detail that Dispensational exegesis of this book is known for. There is a general understanding of end time events revealed in this book (as it pertains to the end of the current world system), and only a more particular understanding of the consummate age or heaven. In other words, to read stuff into Revelation (like identifying the European union as the ten headed beast, or taking the “Mark of the Beast” as a literal mark or bar code embedded on your hand or forehead) will not work; and this is convincingly revealed as the exegete studies the background context and Jewish-Christian apocalyptic tradition from which John wrote and received the revelation of Jesus.

Bauckham’s prior development, to the quote above, has highlighted how the history in the 1st century (second Temple Judaism) supplies all the historical referents for which John’s apocalyptic language finds a referent. In other words, the language of “Beast” was common moniker for the Roman Empire, and its gone wild military power. The ‘Mark of the Beast’ was required in order to buy and sell in the Roman Empire (or allegiance to Nero and the Caesars). So as Bauckham notes, if true, then the application of this (prophetically for the future) is that the power of the Beast (represented by empires who have their strength through military might and power) will not last (which was immediately realized in the Roman context as ultimately the Roman empire collapsed, but this kind of “power” has continued to persist into the present). Also there is an interesting note, historically in regards to the language of the Beast receiving a fatal blow to the head, and then his resurrection (which was also common apocalyptic language directed toward the Roman empire and the Nero legend by other apocalyptic writings during this period like the Ascension of Isaiah etc.); Bauckham identifies how this was something that had already happened in reference to the Beast (in particular Nero legend, whom the number 666 through Gematria [the common usage of Greek letters that have numeric value to identify people or places, in this instance, the Greek letters for Nero add up to 666]); that after Nero committed suicide, it appeared that the Roman empire was doomed, but at the time of 70 AD Titus Vespasian resurrected and coalesced the empire through the sacking of Jerusalem and the military might of the Rome. It appeared that the Beast had died, but within a short period of time he rose again to excessive power. These are just a few examples of how Bauckham reorientates the book of Revelation through providing a thick account of the context in which the book of Revelation was written. The exegete, if genuine, cannot simply over-look what Bauckham has provided if he or she is going to honestly engage the book of Revelation. Which leads to my last implication.

For all too long, personally, folks I have been around who want to continue holding onto their particular interpretive schema of things (especially dispensationalists) will caricature other interpretive approaches to the book of Revelation in particular. There usually is a sketch of the other positions (like historist, idealist, preterist), but then this is only used to relativize the interpretive situation (or confuse); at which point the dispensationalist steps in and offers his clarity of interpreting the book of Revelation through a futurist lens alone. This is not good practice, and it ultimately turns people like me off. True, each one of us has to make our own decisions when it comes to principles of interpretation; but I would like to think that that involves being honest, and taking all the evidence (we are aware of) into account. That we are not so locked into particular denominations and their distinctives that we are afraid to change our minds, and allow our preunderstandings that we bring to the text to change in accordance with the relative weight of the evidence on the ground that we are confronted with through the kind of rigorous study that Paul admonishes us to (cf. II Tim. 2.15). [I am of course not talking about essential things here, I am talking about so called secondary things like this issue entails]

One more implication. If what Bauckham writes is true, then this has paradigmatic consequences for how we view our current situation, especially as Westerners and Americans in particular. We should not conflate being a Christian with being a Patriot, a Republican-Democrat-Independent, or simply with being an American. In fact insofar as America’s strength is rooted in her military might, then she exemplifies the features of the ‘Beast’ and not the City on the Hill that Ronald Reagan attributed to her. What the book of Revelation does is that it places any empire (like, really the emerging Global Empire we inhabit) on notice; that its time is short, and that all of its wanton desires are coming to an end. You can kill the Christians (and the ‘Beast’ has, statistically more so in the 20th century by itself than the previous 19 added together), but it is through the martyrs blood that the Beast only proves his own demise; the blood of the martyrs cries out, and signals that the Lion-Lamb’s kingdom has come and will finally come at the last trumpet. What Bauckham’s insights implies is that the Beast (or Anti-Christ) is not necessarily embodied in a single person; instead Nero and the Roman empire exemplifies or symbolizes the kind of power that is embodied by empires or empire in the world. There will be, according to the unfolding of the judgments in Revelation (the Seal, Trumpet, Bowl) an intensification of the Beast and empire just prior to the return of Christ (where the Danielic ‘Stone’ will crush the kingdoms of this world cf. Daniel 2). In other words, Jesus could come at any moment!

I am going to be doing a few posts in the near future on my hereditary line of belief, Dispensationalism. I used to post on this — in past blog lives — quite often. I used to spend time sketching the hermeneutics and actual beliefs of dispensational theology; whether that be from classic, revised, to progressive dispensationalism. I used to like to illustrate (for those not in the know) the nuance available within dispensationalism, both heremeneutically and thus ethically. Given the quite astonishing shift in international perception relative to the Nation of Israel and the Liberation of Palestine, I thought it would be timely to redress this issue through looking at a theological system of interpretation that, I believe, could be THE theological position that has fostered American Christian Zionism in the past 20th century; like nothing has prior to this in the history of the Church and its interpretation (at a regional level). I personally have moved from classic dispensationalism (that’s how I grew up), to progressive dispensationalism (converted to this back in and around 1998), and finally I would claim to be historic premil today (which in all honesty reflects progressive dispy in almost every way, except for its view of the Tribulation — historic premil is usually associated with the post-Trib view vs. the pre-Trib — I think that many who claim to be historic premil fail to understand or realize the development within dispensationalism that progressive dispensationalism represents — in other words, progressive dispensationalism, by and large, is substantially motivated by George Eldon Ladd’s historic premillenialism and appropriated within a dispensational ethos by folks like Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock, and Robert Saucy amongst others). Most of this, my posting on this, is motivated by the current geo-political stuff happening in the Middle-East; especially in regards to how this whole “Arab Spring” is affecting the Nation of Israel. I want to talk about — through the forthcoming posts — why it is that so many Evangelical Christians are political Zionists. And I really want to consider if this move is even and actually consistent with the dispensational theology that supposedly fosters such a perspective. My contention will be that, contrary to popular belief, even a dispensationalist should not currently be a political Zionist; as so many are. In the context of my intended aim, here is a video describing the current political crisis Israel faces in regards to her borders and security:

ht: Scot McNight

And here’s one more that gives the history of Israel in 5 minutes:

This post falls in the sphere of ethics and theopolitics, and is a little different than my usual posts. I am not sure how much my readers follow current events (although it is harder and harder not to, methinks!), but I simply wanted to alert those who don’t to the fact that anti-semitism (or anti-Zionism) is on the rise in a serious way in the world (if you haven’t noticed). As some may know there was a “freedom flotilla” against Israel back in May 2010; well, they are planning another one — this one is supposed to be bigger, you can read about that here. Also, there is a call for what is being called “The 2011 March of Return”, a call for millions of Palestinians, and their non-Palestinian supporters to march into Israel on May 15th; read about that here. And then to understand some of the rage against Israel, listen to the “rap” performed by British-Arab rapper “Lowkey“:

We don’t live in a happy world! I think we all need Jesus!! What do you think about the mood that is permeating the globe? And what do you think about the politics in Israel and Palestine? Does Israel have a right to protect themselves as a country? Does the Palestinian government have the right to engage in the activity that they do against Israel? I know this post is a can of worms, but this is a blog. Do you see any theological significance with what is going on in Israel and Palestine (and I’m not looking for a dispy premil answer, but your answer; what do you think about the “theopolitics” going on in Israel, how does it fit into your broader Christian belief that the nations of the world belong to our Christian God)?

As many of you know, like many of you, I grew up as a Classic Dispensationalist; as a consequence I sat under and read many Bible teachers of this persuasion. Back in 96-97 (before I attended Multnomah Bible College & Biblical Seminary) I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College (in Southern California — where I’m originally from). Calvary Chapels are known for their strong support of the nation of Israel – especially Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa where Chuck Smith, the founder of CC pastors (I attended this church for a few years); their support is a direct corollary of their theological dispensationalism. While I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College one of my instructors was Dr. David Hocking (a well known dispy Bible teacher, in conservative Evangelical circles from yesteryear); David is half Jewish, he’s a big guy, with a booming voice – quite the charasmatic character. He is passionate for the nation of Israel, he has many contacts there (even Benjamin Netanyahu); and he takes his classic dispy theology very seriously. I have always been sentimental towards David, simply because the Lord used him in the past to help edify me. In fact, just last week I went to a conference he was speaking at here in the Pac NW.

I moved away from classic dispensationalism quite awhile ago (approx. 14yrs ago); I became a progressive dispensationalist (which does not see two people of God like classics do; only one in Christ), and I’ve even had flux since that move, entertaining amil for awhile. But I’ve come back to my premil roots, and have pretty much settled with the historic premil position on such things. What disheartens me with David Hocking, and Calvary Chapels (we actually are attending one now); is that they still operate with this hard core distinciton between Israel and the Church. So that when David, for example, comes across passages in the OT that refer to “God’s people” he believes that this talking about ethnic Israel; and thus fails to emphasize Jesus as ethnic Israel through whom salvation is mediated to all the nations. He often caricatures the amil position with the language of “replacement theology,” meaning that he believes that all amil folk have replaced the nation of Israel with the Church; when in fact this is not the case. Many amillers actually believe (per Rom. 9–11) that there is an remnant of ethnic Jews who will be and are being saved before Jesus comes again; David believes that “replacement theology” is leading to the abandoning of the nation of Israel, by Christians, in fact he believes this view (amil and for that matter, historic premil) is heresy (I heard him say this just last week).

The unfortunate thing is that David and Calvary Chapels, in general, would elevate this issue to a level of orthodoxy. I am a supporter of the nation of Israel; I do think that God has a future for that nation, I think someone would actually have to be blind to the fact that God has and is providentially working on the nations behalf (there are too many things that testify to this, to be able to deny it). That said, I think the best way to support the nation of Israel is to proclaim the Gospel to Jews; it’s not to provide political backing for them (God’s got their back). The nation of Israel is a pagan nation (by and large), not any different than America; although, we do know that they are different than America in the sense that God has made promises to them that became a reality through the Messiah they gave to the world.

I am saying all of this, because, honestly, I am still somewhat torn over some of this. I do believe that the promises of God to the Fathers of Israel are irrevocable; how that gets all cashed out is yet to be seen. I do believe that God has a plan, eschatologically, that places Jerusalem right at the center of the end of the ages. And I do believe that the fact that the nation is currently there is a direct result of God’s providential hand accomplishing His purposes. I do believe that there is the biggest anti-Semitic move amongst the nations against Israel that we’ve ever seen before (not just Muslim nations, but the UN and now, sadly the USA); and I think this ought not be so. Israel has just as much of a right to protect herself as does any nation on this earth! I think Israel is being framed as the “occupiers.” Anyway, I just thought I would rant about this issue a bit; and see what kind of feedback it might generate. Okay, ready, set . . . feedback!

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Hello my name is Bobby Grow, and I author this blog, The Evangelical Calvinist. Feel free to peruse the posts, and comment at your leisure. I look forward to the exchange we might have here, and hope you are provoked to love Jesus even more as a result. Pax Christi!

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A Little Thomas Torrance

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” -T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, 94.

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