MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto – Rejoinder #3

peace and mercy …. upon the Israel of God

Continuing with another rejoinder to Sam Waldron’s book, MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto – A Friendly Response.

Sam devotes at least 11 chapters both directly and indirectly addressing the subject of Israel in his MacArthur rebuttal. Like all faithful Covenant, Reformed Baptist, a good part of his agenda is to make sure when his readers finish his book they go away knowing Sam believes the NT Church is simply the “New” Israel.

The view John presented in his Shepherd’s Conference message is that God has promised to ethnic Israel a future salvation and restoration where they will dwell in an earthly kingdom with their messiah reigning from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. That is an unconditional promise God originally gave to Abraham and his descendants and is reiterated throughout the history of the OT and that kingdom is assumed to have fulfillment as taught by Christ and His Apostles.

Contrasted to John’s position, Sam, along with many Covenant Theologians, argues that the Church, composed of both Jews and gentiles, is now a corporate, spiritual entity that has become a new covenant holy nation. The notion that God will save and restore national Israel to a future kingdom in the physical land known as “Israel” is misguided. Rather, the true “future” of ethnic Israel is found in the new covenant body known as the Church and the true restoration of a physical kingdom to Israel is the progression of the gospel as proclaimed by the Church starting from Jerusalem and spreading to the entire world. See Acts 1:6-8 for example. Thus God fulfills His OT promises to Israel through the believing Jewish remnant who believe by faith in Christ, so that in this holy nation “all Israel” is being saved [MMM, 32].

The idea that the Church is now the “New” Israel isn’t new in church history, nor is it unique to Sam and Reformed covenant thought. Some early Christians in the centuries immediately following the time of the apostles believed the church was a “new” Israel replacing the old Israel. Sam mentions Justin Martyr who held to a form of “replacement theology” who believed the Church was spiritual “New” Israel replacing the old Israel [MMM, 21].  But Martyr also held to the idea of a future millennium where the salvation and restoration of Israel will take place, the one important distinction supporting MacArthur’s message that is over looked in Sam’s citation.

Augustine was the most dominant Church Father who solidified in his theology the teaching of the NT Church being a “New” Israel, and it was passed along by the Roman Catholic Church down through the centuries. In fact, Roman Catholic theology even today reads similarly to how Sam and Covenant Theologians argue.

For example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 877 states, “in fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as ‘the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.'” Also, in the Catechism of Vatican II under chapter 7 entitled, The Work of Salvation: The Church, we read, “As Israel according to the flesh which wandered in the desert was already called the Church of God, so too the new Israel, which advances in this present era in search of a future and permanent city is called also the Church of Christ” (par. 77).

When the Reformers broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation, they carried with them over into their ecclessiology the Church =”New” Israel teaching and developed their views of eschatology around it.

Now, lest anyone accuse me of arguing according to a guilt by association because I take historical note of the connection of this doctrine of the NT Church being a “New” Israel with the Roman Catholic Church, allow me to be clear: The determining factor of the truthfulness of any doctrine is whether or not the doctrine is formulated and taught in scripture.

Roman Catholicism has always held to the proper, biblical understanding of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, for example. And as Sam, who is an amillennialist points out in a footnote, even though the Catholic church has been historically amillennial doesn’t discount that system of eschatology. There are many pseudo-Christian cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons who have held to a form of premillennialism [MMM, 17, f.n. 1].

What needs to be considered in this discussion is whether or not the term “Israel” is used as a synonym for the Church, the body of Christ, as Sam argues. John stated in his Shepherd’s Conference message that throughout scripture the term “Israel” means Israel, a nation of ethnic Jews. No where in the NT is there any indication that the Church is called the “New” Israel. John goes on to say that the two references which are often raised as proof of the Church being called “Israel” are Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6. Sam writes that “This is one of those outrageous statements which could be used to make MacArthur look and sound silly” [MMM, 36].

The reason John’s statement is outrageous, argues Sam, is because John is appealing to some majority-rule hermeneutic that employs an Arminian-like logic in which the word “all always means all.”  A good Bible expositor should know the context of any biblical passage helps to define what the original author meant by all, and in many instances all doesn’t mean all without exception as Arminians like to claim.

Sam goes on to point out that for the most part in scripture Israel does mean the Jewish nation. However, like a true Covenant Theologian, Sam says simply there are at times when “good and necessary reasons” makes the term “Israel” to mean the Church when the text requires such a connotation [MMM, 36-38]. Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6, along with a small number of other passages, are those instances where “good and necessary reasons” insists one is to understand the word “Israel” as referring to the Church, the body of Christ.

But is Sam’s understanding of these texts correct? Is the typical Covenant Theological position that there are “good and necessary reasons” for the word “Israel” to mean the Church forced upon these texts, or derived from them? Sam seems to think his exegesis of these passages is sound, so let me address his take on these two passages along with Ephesians 2.

I will begin with Galatians 6:16 and address the others in later posts.

Galatians 6:16 reads, And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

The disagreement between Dispensationalism, John’s position, and Covenant Theology, Sam’s position, centers around how one understands the phrase “Israel of God.”

Dispensationalists generally take the phrase to be referring to Jewish believers who were in the Galatian church, where as those of the Covenant perspective see the phrase as describing a new, spiritual Israel of God, the Church.

Sam is of the second position and asserts that in this passage, Israel does not refer exclusively to ethnic Jews, but to the entire Church of Christ [MMM, 41]. The reason he concludes that is because the context demands it, and he unfolds his argument as follows:

Because this passage stands close to the end of Paul’s letter, and nothing in the following verses shed any light on how to take the phrase “Israel of God,” Sam’s approach to interpreting the passage is to work backwards through the epistle. When a person takes that approach, the first thing he will notice is the immediate context before 6:16. Paul is wrapping up his letter which was a polemic arguing against Judiazers who were compelling Christians in Galatia to be circumcised according to the Jewish law. Paul states that those men who insisted the Galatian Christians must be circumcised do not keep the law themselves (6:13). He then says that a true boast of a Christian is the crucifixion of Christ, not the circumcision of the flesh (6:14). Paul concludes by stating that what matters is being a new creation in Christ, not whether one is circumcised or uncircumcised.

Now, with that context in mind, Sam asks, why would Paul make such an emphatic, doctrinal statement saying circumcision no longer matters only to contradict his point by singling out the very group whose identity is marked by circumcision? It would be absurd to think such a thing. The only conclusion one who is accurately handling the text can draw is that Paul is using the phrase “Israel of God” to mean a new, spiritual Israel composed of both Jews and gentiles. That interpretative conclusion is also affirmed in the earlier portion of Galatians chapter 5 as Sam notes.

He also attempts to build his case from a key, exegetical point. A lot of the debate as to how one understands the phrase “Israel of God” hinges upon the translation of the Greek conjunction kai. Without getting too complicated in the original languages, the kai could possibly be translated one of two ways:

The normative use of kai would translate verse 16 as, As many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, and (kai) upon the Israel of God. That translation suggests Paul blesses two distinct groups: Those who “walk by this rule” and “the Israel of God.” Dispensationalists favor the translation because it suggests Paul had in mind gentile Christians, those who walk by this rule, and Jewish Christians who are given the honorable title, “the Israel of God.”

Then there is the epexegetical or appositional meaning of kai where the verse would be translated As many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, even (kai) upon the Israel of God. With that rendering, Paul had in mind one group of individuals who “walk by this rule” that being “the Israel of God” both Jews and gentiles in Christ as a “New” Israel. The main difficulty – and it is a rather big difficulty – with that translation is the epexegetical use of kai is rare in Greek.

Sam favors the second way of translating the kai in spite of its grammatical rarity in the Greek language, and devotes a four page excursus defending the epexegetical meaning of kai in Galatians 6:16. Again, his primary reason for translating the kai as “even” has to do with what he claims are contextual factors: It is unreasonable to think Paul would spend an entire epistle condemning circumcision as a necessity for Christian salvation only to turn around and offer a blessing upon Jewish Christian thus singling out the one specific group who would be identified by circumcision.

He also appeals to an additional grammatical point, the phrase as many as walk by this rule. The phrase as many as is translated from hosos and it means as many as – no more or no less. In other words, the phrase includes every one who walk by this rule both Jews and gentiles. Hence there is no need to see an additional group of Jewish Christians being blessed with the phrase “Israel of God.”

On the surface, Sam’s interpretation looks to be compelling. He makes some good points, particularly against the traditional Dispensational view that there are two different groups of believers Paul is blessing in his benediction. However, a couple of points strike against his conclusion.

First, as Sam himself even admits, a lot of his interpretation is driven by Covenantal presuppositions. That is particularly true of his study on the epexegetical use of the kai. Because his theological system demands the Church be considered the “New” Israel, it is much easier for Sam to make the text teach the epexegetical translation of the kai rather than the normative use.

Second, there is a third translational option for kai that Sam doesn’t consider which takes into consideration Paul’s argument as Sam has outlined and maintains the unity of both Jews and gentiles as those who walk by this rule.

The late NT scholar, Carl Hoch, suggested a third interpretation of kai in Galatians 6:16, the adjunctive sense. The translation of verse 16 would read, as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy also (kai) upon the Israel of God. Hoch remarks, “Taken this way, Paul would be pronouncing peace upon all who walk by the rule (whether Jewish or Gentile Christians). At the same time he adds a prayer for God’s mercy upon those within the nation of Israel, who although elect, had not yet come to faith in Christ,” [All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology, p. 276].

Now one may argue that the adjunctive translation of kai is as rare as the epexegetical, I believe the normative use of kai can represent Hoch’s essential point. That being, Paul blesses those who walk by this rule, the Christian Church both believing Jews and gentiles, and then he offers a plea to pray for unbelieving Jews, the Israel of God.

In other words, Paul is not addressing two separate groups of Christians as some Dispensationalists claim, but neither is he redefining the word Israel and pouring onto it a spiritual meaning for the New Testament Church, as Sam claims.

38 thoughts on “MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto – Rejoinder #3

  1. Good study.There’s neither Jew nor Gentile, but the Israel of God.Two folds, become one flock under One Shepherd.And yet there is still the distinction of Jew and Gentile, the Jew being the natural branch, and us Gentiles being wild.

  2. Fred. You wrote: “Martyr also held to the idea of a future millennium where the salvation and restoration of Israel will take place, the one important distinction supporting MacArthur’s message that is over looked in Sam’s citation.” First of all, his name was Justin, Martyr is WHAT he was. Secondly, Justin singularly did NOT believe in a future salvation and restoration of Israel after the flesh, but he believed in a millennium in which the promises were to be transferred to the CHURCH. For example, in opening Chapter 80 of his ‘Dialogue with Trypho’ (which has some nasty whiffs of anti-semitism in it), Justin writes:”And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?”Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware””Note that Trypho says to Justin ‘YOUR people’, that is the Church as the new Israel, and that Justin does not deny it, but affirms it strongly. This is a Christian, not a Jewish Millennium.Despite the claims of Barry Horner (and I have challenged him on this point), NOT ONE early Church writer held to a future restoration of the Jews to the Land. Is this a compelling argument against it? Not hardly! I happen to think they’re all wrong (Tertullian held out for a future conversion of the Jews, which was a good start, but nothing more). But as David Brown in his ‘Restoration of the Jews’ (1861) has shown, no Church Father believed in a future restoration of the Jews to the land, not even the pre-millennial ones! (I inquired of Dr. Horner whether he knew of any Church Fathers who taught a future restoration of Israel. He does not) It is a bad idea to assume that just because someone holds to a future Millennium, they also hold to a future restoration of the Jews. Just as it is wrong to assume that someone who holds that the majority of the Olivet discourse refers to the fall of Jerusalem does not believe in the Second Coming. We must beware of reading our own theology back into the Fathers. They are a notoriously diverse lot. Justin was no exegete of Scripture, and seems more at home with philosophy (he was a philosopher before his conversion) than he does with Biblical exegesis.

  3. Hey HH,Thanks brother for the comments of clarification. I am completely aware of the Antisemitism among many of the church fathers. I think a lot of it stemmed from culture divisions between Jews remaining after the destruction of AD 70 and the bar-Kokhba rebellion in AD 135. I think you are correct that church fathers need to be considered with a significant grain of salt. Our appeal to them doesn’t necessarily affirm biblical doctrine. However, with regards to Justin Martyr, though he believed the Jews were justly punished in AD 70 and 135 and believed the blessing of Israel were transfered to the church, he did hold to a restoration of Israel in salvation fulfilling the prophecies of Zechariah. Michael Vlach notes in a Spring 2008 TMSJ article, Rejection the Hope: The Church’s Doctrine of Israel in the Patristic Era that Justin, in his First Apology, appealed to OT promises for Israel’s restoration and claimed that the Jews, according to Zechariah the prophet, will mourn the one whom they pierced just as he predicted. He saw this taking place at the second coming of Christ to establish his millennial kingdom. My point with Sam is that he chides John for his discussions on replacement theology during his Shepherd’s Conference address and then cites Justin as an example of a premillennialist that held to replacement theology. This is only partly accurate, because John was arguing specifically for salvation and restoration in his message. That was its main theme. In spite of Sam’s complaint, I think it is clear Justin still held to a future salvation of the 12 tribes at the coming of Christ, essentially as John was stating.

  4. I think any fair-minded exegete has to contend with the fact that Gal. 6:16 is far from clear that “Israel of God” is in apposition to “those who will walk by this rule.” That is an aweful lot of theology hanging on a single conjunction. I will look forward to your comments on Rom. 9:6. I think CT’s case from this passage is even less complelling than it is from Gal. 6:16. What other passages do they use to make their case? I think MacArthur’s point stands.

  5. Fred. I haven’t read Justin’s First Apology. I’ll be taking a look at it. In his dialogue with Trypho (which is where I’m most familiar with Justin from), Chap. 123, Justin declares that Christians are the true Israel. In Chapter 135 he states that Christ is King of Israel and that Christians, not Jews, are the true Israelites. I’ll take a look at Vlach too, if possible.

  6. Fred,I've been casually following your series here. I haven't read the book you're critiquing so I'm not really interested in defending Sam. But the whole "Israel of God" thing is amazing. In your post here you basically admit Sam has a good point and the commonly accepted dispensational interpretation is probably a little weak, so you go with a third option. Did I miss the contradicting of Sam's case?What's more is we get hung up on Israel as if it is some singularly important technical title. James starts his book to "the twelve tribes in the Dispersion" and its clear the book is directed to NT Christians. Does everything only apply to Jewish Christians? Peter takes the very titles given to Israel in Exodus 19 and 20 (as well as Hosea 1 &2) and applies them to the church in 1 Pet. 2:9-10. Rev. 1:5 uses those titles as well. Paul in Romans says non-Israelites can be considered Jews, because a Jew is one inwardly. Galatians has already declared that the whole church can be considered children of Abraham.So if the church is all of this, how is it not a spiritual Israel? We drink from the same spiritual drink and eat the same spiritual food, having been baptized in a fashion similar as they were … according to Paul in 1 Cor. 10:1-12. We've been grafted into the one tree, the very same tree into which repentant Jews will be grafted back into. Jesus chose 12 disciples from which to establish his church, and there were 12 men who were the fathers of the nation Israel (with its 12 tribes). Is that not a symbol that Jesus intended to establish an entity parallel to Israel? He established a new Israel. The elders in heaven seem to represent a single body of people with 24 leaders (12 tribes + 12 apostles). Apostles and Tribes both are represented in the various building blocks and gates of the new Jerusalem.It will be interesting to see how you deal with Ephesians 2 as that is so clear. There is one new man, and no longer a partition remaining.It seems when you view the entire NT together on this subject, a unified thesis emerges, that the Church is the new Israel of God.I still respect your view and don't really want to get into a knock-down, drag-em fight here. You can hold to what you want. And I don't want to disrespect MacArthur for his position. One can hold to a literal 1000 year reign and still not hold to dispensationalism. My pastor, John Piper does, as far as I know. But I really think this influences how one approaches and views Scripture in important ways.Anyways, I'm reading along here.God bless,Bob Hayton

  7. Good stuff Bob and I hope to address much of it in future posts for my blog. The Manifesto book is just an introductory to a much larger subject I hope to study in more detail later.I will have some more to say to your comment in the next few days. I just have a bunch of busy stuff going on a work that occupies my time to respond at any length. Trying to do anything at home is a waste of time seeing I have 3 boys pulling on me to play outside. =-)Fred

  8. Bob, here’s why it’s important: all those prophecies about the future restoration of Israel, Judah, Jerusalem.Was God fooling His original readers?That’s the issue.(One Dan’s opinion; blog host may differ)Highland Host — is there a place where you positively set forth your own eschatology, and your approach to OT prophecy?

  9. Dan. If you want to know my position, I shall imitate the action of Dr. Barry Horner and recommend that you take a look at the commentary on Romans 11 in the Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Bible Commentary, or at David Brown’s book ‘The Restoration of the Jews’. As I have said on more than one occasion in the pulpit, I think the matter of the timing of the Millennium is a secondary issue, if not a tertiary one (after all, the term comes from a single passage in the Revelation). Unfortunately none of my sermons on Eschatology are online, and that is where I have set forth my position most clearly. To give a brief summary, I tend towards the historic, Reformed and Evangelical post-millennial position (this is as opposed to the liberal version of it). I abhor allegorizing, and that cheap method that says that every prophecy relating to Israel refers to the Church. On the basis of Romans 11, I think that I am justified in seeing in various places in the OT a reference to the future restoration of the Jewish people to faith in Messiah and to the Land of Israel. I do not pretend to have understood all mysteries and solved every hermeneutical riddle. But if you think your system does that, then I’d be very surprised!I agree with Witsius, Markius, and De Moor among the Dutch, as opposed to Bavinck. Jurieu among the Huguenots, Edwards, and of course David Brown, who is an excellent and cautious Bible commentator.As I said, I’ve preached it, but only at churches which still record sermons on cassette-tape. I’m amazed anyone sells those things any more, and have said so on more than one occasion. If you can contact Bethel Chapel, Guildford, Surrey, and the Wellingborough Baptist Tabernacle, Wellingbrough, Northamptonshire, they have the tapes.Fred. I found the passage in Justin. Obviously he only holds to a future conversion of the Jews, not a restoration to the Land (which he is quite clear about talking to Trypho). Barry Horner will have none of it when a-millennialists say they believe in a future conversion of the Jews and not a restoration to the Land, so he can’t use Justin (and to his credit, he doesn’t, although the index in Future Israel is extremely annoying, as it splits Justin up into two entries, one under ‘Justin Martyr’ and the other under ‘Martyr, Justin’). It is not until after the Reformation that we find Paul’s teaching in Romans 11 properly understood to refer to restoration to the Land as well as to Messiah.

  10. HH, What did Justin mean, then, when he stated “there will be a resurrection of the dead and a 1,000 years in Jerusalem which will then be built and enlarged as Isaiah and Ezekiel declare.”? As I recall both those prophets, they not only spoke of a future salvation for Israel, but a restoration in the land (Isaiah 11 for example). My quibble with Sam had to do with his half citation of Justin, who certainly believed the church was a new Israel, yet ignoring when Justin appealed to prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah as indication of a restored Israel in the land. If Justin didn’t mean it, then what is his appeal to those prophets as his argument against Trypho?Fred

  11. DJP,Once I tried to discuss this with you (as I posted a response to one of your anti-non-dispensational posts). I know I could have phrased that last descriptive a little better.Here was my post.Anyway, I’m aware of “the issue”. To me, “the issue” is the clear affirmations in the NT, i.e. Eph. 2. We can go back and come up with some absolutes about what we think God meant by the promises as recorded in the OT. Or we can see how the NT declares the fulfillment of many of those promises and learn from that as far as how we are to understand the OT promises.Plus the NT makes clear that OT people saw more in the promises then we sometimes give them credit (enter Rom. 4, and Hebrews 11, for instance).I realize this is a huge issue and there is much to study still for me on my exact eschatology. But for now I’m going with a Graemsworthy-ish approach to the Bible that sees Christ at its center. I’d encourage you to check out Vern Poythress’ excellent Salvation History article which will be included in the ESV Study Bible. I like his statement from a recent interview: “It is not fashionable nowadays, but I confess that I do believe that every passage, and even every word, of the OT reflects Christ”.Again, God bless you all, and may we all grow in our understanding of His glorious and rich Word.Bob Hayton

  12. Thanks, Bob. Yes, I quite agre that Ephesians 2 is central: the church is a new man, not Israel in any sense of the word.No doubt I have to read fourteen other long books and essays to get to whether “apple” really means “hiking boot,” and “Israel” really means “Christian church.” And I actually do plan to do all that reading, when I can.But I’ll tell you right now: if those writers, godly as they are in countless ways, succeed in persuading me that God was using crystal-clear words to make crystal-clear promises to those readers — promises they could and would take in only one way……and if God meant by those promises nothing like what He actually said in those promises……then, for all I can see, in having persuaded me of that view of OT prophecy, they will also have persuaded me not to take ANY proposition, assertion, promise or warning in the Bible seriously, they will put me back in the New Age cult I was in before grammatico-historical exegesis forced me to DEAL with the claims of Christ, and I’ll be done with Christianity.

  13. Which, to be (myself) crystal-clear, I cannot conceive of happening.But my point is that hermeneutics really is a matter of life and death.

  14. Eph. 2 = of the two, one new man. I find it interesting you’re placing limits on what the promises can mean, they can only be understood in one way. And they must be crystal clear.In writing, we often foreshadow and hint at things we later more fully develop. If that is true of human writing, and if God is the true author of all 66 books, can’t He have the liberty to do the same? Is Isaac’s carrying of wood up the hill which would one day be called Golgotha, pure happenstance? Wasn’t God planning that out. And if so, then couldn’t Joseph’s life point at Jesus’ future rejection by his brethren?Anyway, as has been agreed this is a big topic and I don’t think this is the right venue for duking it out. Have you seen Vern Poythress’ book, Understanding Dispensationalists? It is available on line for free at his website. I think he tries to point out where both sides are coming from in a way that doesn’t villify either side and hopefully adds clarity. Of course I side with Him so I think some of his arguments are really good.Blessings in Christ,Bob

  15. Fred. I understand your concern about Justin. The trouble is that you are assuming that Justin is consistent. He isn’t. I repeat my earlier citation of the opening of Chapter 80 of the dialogue with Trypho:”And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?”Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware””Note that Trypho says ‘YOUR’ people, not ‘our’ people when he is describing Justin’s position concerning Jerusalem in the Millennium. It is plain from this passage that what Justin held was that the rebuilt Jerusalem of the Millennium was for all Christians, not only those of Jewish descent. In Chapter 139 Justin states, “The possession of all the saints shall be in that same land.” Note ‘All the saints’, not just those of Israelite descent, inherited the Land of Canaan in Justin’s scheme. So that Justin, it seems, because he held that the Church was the new Israel, saw those promises as regarding the whole Church in the Millennium. Which you and I do not.Yes, if Justin had been consistent, he would have seen that to hold that a future conversion of Israel after the flesh without a restoration to the Land is only half on the Biblical promise. But Justin was human as we are, and besides, he did not have the long heritage of Bible study that we have today. If we can see further than him, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants.And I think that part of the disagreement between Dispensationalists and non- is what we often fail to bring out exactly what we mean. The Dispensational view of the Church, AS I UNDERSTAND IT (and I confess that my experience of Dispensationalists is mostly in the old Brethren movement, so quite ‘Classical’) is that it is a new entity that did not exist before Pentecost and is essentially Gentile, while the Covenant Thelogy view is that there is a continuity between the Church in the OT and the NT. It was always the remnant in Israel, and Christ called out Jewish apostles. Those converted at Pentecost were Jews, and the Bible was written by Jews. Now, maybe Dispensationalism has moved beyond the idea that the Church is discontinuous from Israel (apologies for long word, but I couldn’t find a better one, it’s 8am and I work in the evening). But if not, then this presupposition needs to be brought out.

  16. Bob, if I promise my Josiah that I am going to take him out for ice cream, and then when the time comes I also invite another boy as well as Josiah, and take them for ice cream and much more, I have kept (and not broken) my promise.If the time comes and I take another boy instead of Josiah, and it isn’t really for ice cream anyway — but I crow that I’ve kept my promises? Then I’m a liar and a mooch, and should never again be trusted.If Jeremiah 31:31-37 does not mean the exact opposite of what replacement theologians hold, then Romans 8:28-30 means everything and nothing, and John 14:6 means everything and nothing, and Ephesians 2:8-10 means everything and nothing.People who defend this fatally flawed position unwittingly but badly impugn the character of God to prop up a non-Biblical system.Which is not good.

  17. And yes, I’m aware of Poythress’ book. I’ve only read some of it. It’s on my list to read sometime, and see whether he can persuade me to abandon a perspicuous and sufficient Scripture.BTW, if I may step back and respond to… er, sorry, someone: no, I don’t think and don’t assert that dispensationalism per se has necessarily formulated everything right. That’s a very large subject, largely in part because dispensationalism is no more monolithic than Covenant Theology in all its particulars.But there are, to me, certain irreducibles. Any view that persuades me that prophecy fundamentally means something neither the prophets nor their hearers could ever possibly have taken it to mean, persuades me at the same time that the same must be true of all Scripture, since all Scripture is prophetic.It was the CONVERSE of this approach that led to my conversion, as I developed at length at Pyro. John 14:6 does not mean that we all find God within ourselves; it cannot mean that.But if the replacement guys are right… then maybe it does. Or maybe it means nothing.Which is, to me as a Christian, inconceivable.

  18. HH,Good study bro. I would be curious to know if his comments appealing to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah as for a restoration of Israel is something that followed after his Dialogs with Trypho. In other words, they reflect more mature thought after his dialogs. I hope to interact a bit with Bob original comment sometime later. Time permitting. Fred

  19. Somehow my comment fell through the cracks.If it can’t be recovered (is it in the spam comment bin?), here’s another try.This will be my last comment, as I can’t resist trying to give a last word, but I know Dan won’t either and this could go on forever.Basically, we have to deal with how the NT explicitly tells us what the promises meant, how they were viewed by OT saints, and how they are fulfilled. With prophecy, we have to take into consideration the built-in conditionality to the promises. See Jer. 18:5-10 especially. Faith was essential for inheriting the promises, see Heb. 6:11-12 for instance. Numbers and Deuteronomy make clear the possession of the land hinged on faithfulness and obedience. Ps. 37:9-11, 22, 27 show that the wicked are cut off from the land but the faithful will inherit it. They’re living in it when the psalm was written, but yet they still might possibly inherit it. This shows the necessity of faith to inherit the promise, and even hints at the meaning of the land, fellowship with God and hearkens to the heavenly country mentioned in Heb. 11.For more on this line of thought, you can see my understanding the land promise series.Anyway, I just wanted to add a few things. I did read your testimonial regarding hermeneutics, I think I read it back when it was first published. You make some important points. But redemptive historical heremeneutics is not a total allegorical scheme where anything goes. Accepting that the NT fills out our understanding of the OT promises does not entail a full-fledged repudiation of literal interpretation.Blessings in Christ,Bob

  20. Who’s denying the centrality of faith? Find him. I’ll thump him.I’m more worried about your evident lack of faith in the words of God.Tell me: what does this, from Jeremiah 31 — particularly the bolded words — mean?35 Thus says the LORD,who gives the sun for light by dayand the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name:36 “If this fixed order departsfrom before me, declares the Lord,then shall the offspring of Israel ceasefrom being a nation before me forever.”37 Thus says the LORD:“If the heavens above can be measured,and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,then I will cast off all the offspring of Israelfor all that they have done,declares the LORD.”

  21. I forgot to mention that passage. It is quoted in Hebrews 8-9 where it is applied to the Church.I see your point with the passage but what about this. What does it mean to “be a nation” before God? From AD 70 until AD 1948, Israel was not a nation in a political sense. Does that qualify as forever? Would a plain reading of that passage conclude that God kept His word here? How does not cease, and Israel did cease, work together?Could this passage mean something other than a political entity by “nation”. Could the church be included in this promise, as Hebrews 8 and 9 with Acts 15 and other places seem to suggest?Again, I don’t want to prolong this debate, but there are more sides to explore in this.So really, this is my last response.Thanks and God bless,Bob

  22. Can we avoid accusing each other of being liberals and heretics, please? To say that an evangelical Protestant minister is trying to lead people into denying the SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE is simply baiting, and surely less than helpful in the services of balanced and rational discussion. As well I might argue that Dr. MacArthur is trying to get me to give up the sufficiency of Scripture because for the life of me I can’t see the pre-trib rapture in the Bible. No, we just disagree. One of us is not interpreting the Bible properly. And the historic evangelical view of the perspicuity of Scripture is not that all things in the Bible are equally clear.Oh, and Dan, thank you for your illustration about taking your boy for ice-cream. For my position is indeed that God is going to (as it were) take the Jews for ice-cream, and bring the elect gentiles along as well. More than that, he adopts the elect Gentiles as well, and so we are all God’s family.So I don’t hold to replacement theology!

  23. “..for God is able to graff them in again.”Seems this must be speaking of the nation of Israel, and not simply individual Jews because Paul says, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, … God has not cast away His people..”, and “For if the casting away of them [Israel]”.God cast them away, and yet He did not cast them away.And those He cast away, “..God is able to graff them in AGAIN.””O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”Don’t even know if this applies to this great discussion really.Good stuff to ponder though.

  24. OK Bob, so your score for telling me what the passage does mean stands at zero.I once made another decoder-ring guy’s head explode on that passage. He puzzled over whether anyone knew what it meant. I said I did. “What?” he asked obligingly.”Exactly what it says.”Your position won’t let you say that. Good man, bad position.And now my dear brother HH – sorry what I said makes you cranky. So much of what I say on this issue seems to make you cranky.But that is one that, God willing, I’d die for, and for the reasons I explained and illustrated at length. If the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, skip it.Hermeneutics matter.

  25. Dan. I now know WHY it makes me cranky. You bait people. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s quite possible to disagree on what the Bible means without doing what Gary DeMar does, and saying that the other side are heretics (DeMar of course then sides with real heretics against those he has painted as heretics, which you don’t do, so you’re one up on him). There is an old saying, ‘give a dog a bad name and then hang him.’ I used to be a liberal, so I know ’em when I see ’em. Vern Poythress isn’t one, just a Presbyterian!!!Like I said, I believe that God has a future for Israel in the Land. There are three issues here. 1. The future restoration of Israel to faith in Messiah Jesus. 2. The future restoration of Israel to the Land. 3. The future restoration of the Temple Worship.

  26. Dan. Just to make things clear. What annoys me is your almost constant use of pejorative language to describe those with whom you disagree on this subject. ‘Decoder-ring set’, for example. I studiously avoid using the term ‘dispie’ because I am think that it is a pejorative. The effect of pejorative language is always to annoy people. It’s like a Romanist calling an evangelical a ‘fundie’. it can appear (perhaps only to my British ear) smug and insulting, and appears to say ‘you’re not worth listening to’. It’s either a cheap debating trick to throw your opponent off-balance (which is not why I think you use it), or just an over-exuberance of spirit (which is what I suspect it is with you, and exuberance is a lot better than depression). Now, as I said, I am attempting to speak here as someone who actually thinks that Israel is going to be restored to the Land. But using pejorative language and accusing others of denying the sufficiency of Scripture (which is an evangelical distinctive, and which accusation therefore is tantamount to saying ‘we and we only are true evangelicals’) is only liable to produce heat without light.

  27. “DeMar of course then sides with real heretics against those he has painted as heretics”-highland hostWho does Gary call heretics, and which heretics does he stand with? If you have some documentation, it would be good.

  28. I apologize for not participating more with our little discussion. You would think with it being my blog and all I would do that, but I’ve been busy with other pressing responsibilities. I do appreciate those who have been talking with each other, making good insights and such.Just to return to Bob’s first comment because he raised an exegetical point I want to address, Bob had asked, In your post here you basically admit Sam has a good point and the commonly accepteddispensational interpretation is probably a little weak, so you go witha third option. Did I miss the contradicting of Sam’s case?(Fred) In my post I admit that Sam makes a compelling case for his position, “compelling” implying that if one didn’t know any better, would be persuasive. The exegetical data, however, especially with his adoption of the epexegetical use of kai argues against his thesis of Galatians 6:16. The very fact that the epexegtical use of kai is so extremely rare (Sam attempts to downplay the “extremely” rare aspect of this use to make his point more palatable) is a point that cannot be ignored. Additionally, Hoch’s third option is a more supportable translation by the typical use of kai as Wallace notes in his “Beyond the Basics” book. Still, in spite of Hoch’s discussion of this use, I still think the normative use of kai is preferred. And, even taking the normative use if one were to understand Paul’s meaning, he is saying there is one group who are in Christ, Jews and gentiles, and he prays blessing upon the Israel of God. Added to this the fact Israel is never used to speak of the Church, I believe in this case the “majority rule” hermeneutic Sam disparages is against him and in my favor. I will have more to say on these issues in forth coming posts on Romans 9 and Ephesians 2.As for the OT titles to describe the Church, I still don’t see those uses as indicators we are to think of the promises to OT Israel are completely and entirely fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, particularly as Dan has pointed out in the comments he has made. I would encourage you, as well as everyone here, to get Carl Hoch’s book, All Things New and read his 55 page appendix on the term “Israel” in the NT. He does a good job of exploring all the major passages raised in this debate and demonstrating there is no sustainable example of the NT Church, the Body of Christ, taking upon that title as a New Israel as meant to replace the Old Israel, or that all the promises of establishing Israel in the land in a kingdom are to be understood as merely spiritual. I will have more to say on this at a later date. Fred

  29. Don asks,Who does Gary call heretics, and which heretics does he stand with? If you have some documentation, it would be good.I am not sure he calls them out right heretics, but he certainly implies dispensationalists or any premillennialists, and certainly anyone who isn’t willing to adopt his preterism, are misguided and wrong headed. I know he is currently collaborating with the group who made the “Amazing Grace” DVD series on Calvinism to produce a DVD series claiming dispensational thought is responsible for all the woes and spiritual apostasy the evangelical Church in the US for the most part has experienced. Thus, they will attempt to link the antics of TBN and Benny Hinn to dispensational thought. Who he sides with as “heretical” I don’t know who HH has in mind, but he is friendly with BAM man Hank because Hank has adopted Gary’s views of Revelation and I personally do not think Hank is qualified to be a radio answer man defending the Bible in apologetic ministry. Fred

  30. Thanks Fred. That helps me. I like DeMar, but I don't lean with Hank at all.I have some preterist friends, and they are firm in their biblical stance, however, they are cautious, and very respectful of teachers like John MacArthur.I once heard David Jeremiah belittling post-mil & a-mil Christians, and wrote to him, and asked him why he would do such a thing? He responded, which I was honored by, and didn't really answer the question, but simply stated the his eschatology is the right one.I suppose the Lord's will in this would be that we discuss these differences at the foot of the Cross, and respect one another, and so glorify the Lord, and even be pleasing to Him in our humility.Thanks again for your response.

  31. Thanks, Fred for the reply. I understand where you’re coming from. I’ll have to see about maybe getting that book, I am reading O. Palmer Robertson’s The Israel of God right now.Regarding the term “Israel”, however, I’m wondering why everyone on your side is so apt to limit the discussion to that term. Again there are many other Israel-ish terms directly applied to Gentile believers and to the church. But the official title Israel is basically only applied in Gal. 6 and Rom. 9. I don’t think I’m going to say absolutely 100% it is used for the church in Gal. 6, but I think it is very likely that it is. Many Bible scholars who don’t have any stake in the discussion (they aren’t anti-dispensational conservatives) hold that the term in Gal. is likely used for the church.But we’ll save that debate for later, as I’m on my 2nd comment beyond my “last comment” in this post already!

  32. I believe Israel is Israel and gentiles are gentiles. When a gentile or jew trust in Jesus Christ they both become one in Jesus Christ. Many of the people living in the nation of Israel are probably directly related to the Jews who were scattered throughout Europe after 70A.D. The nation of Israel has been established by the will of God as shown in Acts 17:Acts 17:26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.So it’s not on accident that a nation named Israel exsist in the same geographic location as the old nation of Israel. Are there going to be an actual proven 12 tribes of Israel again? I would like to see that happen. That would change a lot of peoples mind.

  33. Gary DeMar has sided with heretical hyper-preterists who deny the future second Advent of Christ and the general resurrection of the dead, (that is to say, the article of the historic creeds that reads ‘I believe He [Christ] shall come in glory to judge both the living and the dead). These people say that ALL Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, and there is nothing left to take place. On the other hand, Gary DeMar sides with these people against dispensationalism, thus implying that Dispensationalists are heretics.Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the things DeMar says are helpful, and he is not himself a heretic. He has however given airtime to heresy, when he had a hyper-preterist on his show to talk about a book ‘Beyond Creation Science’. I think that DeMar’s antipathy to dispensationalism has made him vulnerable in this spot.

  34. So DeMar is a Full-Preterist, and not a Partial-Preterist?If that is so, then you are right, he has embraced a teaching outside orthodoxy.But I thought he was a partial-preterist.I’ll be checking into this for sure.Thanks for your response.Have a great day in the Lord’s truth and grace and love.

  35. Donsands. Sorry if I did not make myself clear. DeMar himself IS a partial-preterist, I did not deny that, nor did I say that he himself was a hyper-preterist. What I said was that he has SIDED with heretical hyper-preterists against dispensationalists, thus implying at least that he thinks dispensationalists are heretics. To be clear, while not actually embracing their heresy, he has embraced the heretics. To me this is extremely worrying, as it shows a terrible imbalance, since he is willing to hold those to be brothers in Christ who deny fundamental doctrine, and anathematized those who do not. Deep confusion, but it shows that over-reactions are very dangerous.

  36. I have a good friend and brother in Christ, who is a full-preterist.I have discussed this heresy with him, and yet, I don’t believe he is not a Christian. he trusts in the Lord’s truth, and loves Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.He thinks he is right that Christ returned in 70 AD, and that those who don’t are causing confusion. I strongly disagree, and tell him that this outside of Orthodoxy.We, however, remain brothers in Christ.He asked me to read “The Parousia” by James Stuart Russell. I have yet to do so.Yet a fellow Christian of ours has, and wrote an extensive reply to the thoughts of full-preterism.I believe one can be within evangelical boundaries, and still be outside with this one teaching.Would you agree?If DeMar anathematized our brothers who are dispensationalists, then I trust he will repent.Thanks again for helping to clear this up.

  37. Pingback: Studies in Eschatology | hipandthigh

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