I had the opportunity recently to participate in a nearly three hour discussion on the distinctions and similarities between Israel and the Church.
Participants were various individuals from the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network, that included Andrew Rappaport and myself defending more of a Dispensational perspective, Paul Kaiser and Joey Jaco from the Conversations from the Porch podcast defending the NCT perspective, and Vincent Lancon representing the CT perspective.
The discussion was informal, rather than a serious debate. I appreciated that because we weren’t required to remain anchored to a rigid format. A number of listeners may find the informality annoying because it allowed us to hop around on a lot of rabbit trails. Additionally, the NCT and CT perspectives were virtually identical, at least this time.
The one observation I would make reflecting back upon the discussion is that our main disagreement hinges on how we interpret the Bible. (Duh).
The Dispensational detractors, especially the NCT guys, insist that the apostles read the Old Tesatment differently than the prophets because the coming of Jesus supposedly changed the rules of hermeneutics. While I would certainly agree that God was progressively revealing His redemptive purposes over time so that certain aspects of His purposes were veiled for a time, to suggest that the basic rules of interpretation shifted dramatically with the coming of Christ so that the OT is entirely reoriented in the light of the NT opens up major fissures in our basic theology.
For example, that view would create what I would consider competing canons of authority with the OT conveying a revelatory message in one way and the NT conveying an entirely different message. Moreover, proponents of that interpretive view would have us believe God intentionally misled with the revelation He gave. In other words, when the patriarchs heard the reiterated covenant promises of a geopolitical kingdom in their land that lasts forever, they took God at His word. If He really meant something entirely different, that being a typological heavenly land, such would be deception on God’s part. The OT is replete with prophetic promises that clearly state how Israel will be planted in their land forever, never to be removed. The land is further understood as the physical territory known as Israel, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 27, Isaiah 59:20-21, Jeremiah 16:14-16, Jeremiah 32:36-40, Hosea 1:10, Hosea 2:21-23, and Zechariah 12-14, just to mention a smattering of important passages.
Abner Chou has actually offered some excellent critiques of what is called the Christocentric hermeneutic. I would direct readers to these resources,
A Evaluation of the Christocentric Hermeneutic (Word doc)
Inerrancy in Light of the NT Writer’s use of the OT (ShepCon Inerrancy Summit message)
The Dual Status of Israel in Romans 11:28 (TMS journal article from Matt Waymeyer)
Anyhow, the discussion is currently available on YouTube, and will be made available eventually as a podcast on BTWN. Check it out.
Israel and the Church | the Clash of Theologies