23rd Jan 2018
Replacement Theology – A Refutation #2
Be sure to read the first installment of this two part series for points # 1 and 2
Third, and as a direct corollary to the second point, Paul taught that to join Christ with the observance of the Torah and Temple was not God’s intent. Remember, it was the Judaizers that taught that Gentiles must keep the Law and be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15). Paul and the inspired leadership of the early church unequivocally rejected this as opposed to the Gospel. Yet, the millennialists teach that in the millennium, Gentiles must worship at the Temple, must offer animal sacrifices, and must be circumcised, or they will be doomed.
The doctrine of the re-establishment of physical circumcision is one element of the millennial paradigm that is seldom addressed. However, in Ezekiel 44:9f, which supposedly describes the literal millennial temple, anyone not circumcised in heart or flesh is forbidden to worship at the temple. Thus, circumcision, the sign of division between Jew and Gentile in the New Testament corpus, is re-established in the millennium. Whereas Paul preached the “hope of Israel,” he nonetheless uncompromisingly fought the Judaizers over whether Gentiles had to be circumcised. Yet, per the millennial view, the millennium is a world in which Jehovah becomes the Divine Judaizer! What He forbad to occur in Christ, He will demand in the millennium! Jerome’s concern, expressed long ago, describes the millennial paradigm. Jerome believed that the idea of a restored sacrificial system in Jerusalem would Judaize Christianity, instead of Christianity Christianizing the adherents of Judaism. (Jerome, cited by David Brown in, Christ’s Second Coming, Will It Be Premillennial? (London; T and T Clark, 1953), 352).
If then the mandates of the Old Covenant are restored, this means that the first century Judaizers were just way ahead of their time! In the millennium, their doctrine will be truth, Gentiles do have to be circumcised. Paul’s doctrine that, “If you become circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing,” (It is assumed here that the reader is aware that Paul was condemning circumcision for religious purposes. He was not condemning circumcision for medical and hygienic reasons. Virtually every man today is circumcised, but it is for medical reasons, and not as an observance of the Mosaic mandate). “If any man is circumcised, he is a debtor to keep the whole law,” “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails,” (Galatians 5:1-6), will be abrogated, and falsified, while the Judaizer’s mantra, “The Gentiles must be circumcised!” will be proclaimed. Those laws that Paul called “the weak and beggarly elements of the world,” will be restored, and man–this time both Jew and Gentile–will be held in bondage to them once again. Is this the glory of the millennial doctrine?
It will not do for the millennialist to insist that the Mosaic Law itself has been abrogated never to be restored, but that a new system of sacrifice and Feast Day will be instituted. The millennial paradigm undeniably teaches the restoration of every major tenet of Judaism,( the very things that Paul insisted were the “weak and beggarly elements,” Galatians 4:9), will be restored. Thus, it matters not whether one says that the Mosaic Law is gone, it is the tenets and praxis of that Law, being earthly, and made by hands, that Paul was opposed to. It was not the Law of Moses per se–although that was certainly included–in one respect, that Paul was opposed to. It was everything that the Law stood for! Animal sacrifices, by their very nature, whether under Abel, Abraham, or Moses, were ineffective.
Fourth, for Israel to replace the church, for the church age to end, violates the emphatic statements that the church age has no end! This is such a fundamental truth, yet one that is being virtually ignored, that it is all but impossible to over-emphasize it. How can you speak of the end of the church age, when the church age has no end? Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The “heaven and earth” he was speaking of was the Old Covenant Temple and Covenant world. Think well of what Jesus said here, his New Covenant will never end. It will never pass. It will never be replaced! His New Covenant is the Covenant of Jew and Gentile equality that Paul proclaimed. Yet the millennialists says it will be replaced in the millennium! However, if Christ’s New Covenant, and thus, the New Covenant Age, has no end, how can anyone even discuss the end of the Christian Age?
Paul said, “Unto Him be glory in the church, by Jesus Christ, world (age) without end, amen!” The Hebrew writer said that the church, the kingdom they were even then in the process of receiving, in contrast to the Old Covenant World that was then being replaced (shaken), could never be shaken, i.e. removed (Hebrews 12:25-28). Now, if the church age has no end, and if the church cannot be replaced, then the doctrine of the millennialists is falsified!
Make no mistake then, the Bible discusses Replacement Theology. However, it is clear that the only system, the only age to be replaced was the Law World given at Sinai. It was giving way–as the millennialists admit–to the body of Christ, and “cannot be shaken.” To restore Israel, and replace the church, the millennialists must affirm that God will put an end to that which is endless, replace the body with the shadow, replace Paul’s gospel of Jew and Gentile equality in Christ, and replace the better, perfect, effective things of Christ, with the things that could never bring man to God.
Fifth, Old Covenant Israel was an entity established with the shedding of the blood of bulls and goats (Exodus 34). The church was purchased and established with the blood of Jesus Christ. Which is the better? Which should endure? Which should be replaced? It will not do to argue that the blood of Jesus will be applied to Old Covenant restored Israel. This is antithetical to the entire New Testament record and Paul’s ministry! The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Hebrews 9:12-14; 10:1-4). The blood of Christ is a perfect, one time, for all time, effective sacrifice, and purchased his bride. Will God indeed set aside and terminate the blood bought body of Christ to re-establish the world of Israel, reinstating the ineffective animal sacrifices?
A final thought. It needs to be understood that the church is no afterthought in the mind of God, as suggested by the millennial paradigm. The term Replacement Theology is used by millennialists to suggest that God arbitrarily and capriciously set Israel and her kingdom agenda aside, due to her rejection of Jesus. However, for Paul, the church was and is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel (Romans 15:8f), not the suspension of those promises. Thus, I would agree that the suggestion of a Replacement Theology in the vein suggesting a setting aside of Israel’s promises to establish something contrary and unrelated to those promises, is false. However, to affirm that the church is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel is the Gospel, and herein lies the tragic failure of the millennialists, and the Jews, to see the glory of Christ and the church. It was God’s eternal purpose to replace the shadow world of Israel with the body of Christ (Galatians 3:23f). To affirm the fulfillment of those promises is the Gospel.
The fact is, the kingdom of Christ, the church, cannot be replaced. The millennialist is correct on one point, Replacement Theology is wrong. However, it is their doctrine of Replacement Theology, i.e. that the church will one day be replaced by Israel, that is at odds with scripture.
For one of the most in-depth, thorough refutations of the charge of Replacement Theology, see my new (2017) book, One Root, One Kingdom: All Nations!. There is literally not another book like it anywhere, and it is changing lives!