Friday, June 15, 2012

A Stubborn Weed

Recently, reader dk recently asked this good question:

Lately, your posts have all been focused on the issue of what actually makes someone a Jew. In particular, you have been attacking what you consider to be a fundamental dispensensationalist tenet that Jewishness is only attained by being a blood descendant of Abraham. Not being an expert in dispensensationalist literature, I'm wondering if you could cite some specific references from dispensensationalists that establish that as a tenet of dispensensationalism. You have made a parenthetical reference to the book, "Christ's Prophetic Plan", but have established no other basis for your claim.

Why I am writing so many posts about the same topic? Why am I repeatedly attacking the Dispensational idea that the Israel of Promise is defined strictly by race? Is this an important part of Dispensationalism?

Yes! It is important. In fact, I believe that this is THE central issue that plagues Dispensationalism. While Dispensationalists are best known for their eschatology, their ecclesiology drives everything.

In Dispensationalism Today, Charles Ryrie identified a distinction between Israel and the church as one of his three sin qua non of Dispensationalism. This tenet is still emphasized in classic or traditional Dispensational circles.

I am most familiar with the Dispensationalism of John MacArthur. He insists on a hard distinction between Israel and the church. God made promises to the ethnic Jews, and these promises must be fulfilled for ethnic Jews.  Israel/Jew is defined exclusively by blood/ethnicity/race.

When I was at Master’s Seminary (1999-2004), they began to ramp up the rhetoric, charging non-Dispensationalists with “Replacement Theology” and “Supercessionism.” Promises made to Israel cannot be taken away and given to the church. Such language assumes that the Israel of Promise is defined by race, not religion.

TMS grad and professor Mike Vlach has written extensively on Supercessionism. All of his writings in this area revolve around the premise that God made specific promises to the ethnic descendants of Abraham that have not yet been fulfilled. Some of his writings can be found here.

Lately, my posts have focused on chipping away at this premise. It has been a bit laborious, but I am attempting to pull a stubborn weed that is entrenched deep in the soil of Dispensationalism.

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