A New Christian Zionism

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Most of us are familiar with the standard narrative about Christian Zionism. It is allegedly a result of bad exegesis and zany theology. While many scholars concede that the Hebrew Bible is clearly Zionist (that is, its primary focus is on a covenant with a particular people and land, both called Israel, and the land sometimes called Zion), they typically insist that the New Testament drops this focus on a particular land and people, and replaces it with a universal vision for all peoples across the globe. Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew for “the land of Israel”) is said to be replaced by ge (Greek for “land” or “earth”) -which is usually understood to mean the whole “earth.” Concern with Jews as Jews is thought to be absent from the New Testament—except to insist that there is no longer any significant difference between Jew and Greek (Gal. 3:28). Hence neither the people nor the land of Israel have any special significance after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to this narrative, the only ones who have advocated for the idea that the New Testament maintains concern for the particular land and people of Israel are premillennial dispensationalists. Most dispensationalist theology has put Israel and the church on two different tracks, neither of which runs at the same time; it often holds to elaborate schedules of End Times events including a rapture, where Christians are “caught up into the air” (1 Thess. 4:17) and out of the increasingly grim events of history. This approach, which was developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is thought to be the origin and essence of all Christian Zionism.

Yet Christian Zionism is at least eighteen centuries older than dispensationalism. Its vision is rooted in the Hebrew Bible, where God’s covenant with Israel is the central story, and at the heart of the covenant is the promise of a land. God takes the initiative to take a particular people to himself and to then promise and eventually deliver a land to this people. Over time, God would drive this people off their land twice but, even in exile, his prophets declared that the land was still theirs.

The Jews who wrote the New Testament kept this vision in the background, with the inauguration of the church coming to the foreground. Just as the Hebrew Bible envisioned blessings going to the whole world through the people of this land, so too the New Testament proclaimed a blessing for the whole world coming through the Jewish messiah, whose kingdom started in Israel and would eventually be centered once again in Israel. These New Testament writers held on to the prophets’ promises that the Jews of the Diaspora would one day return to the land from all over the world, and establish there a politeia (a political entity), which one day would be transformed into a center of blessing for the world.

Anti-Zionists concede that the Old Testament prophets, usually writing from exile, predicted a return to the land. But some of them say these prophecies of return were fulfilled when the Babylonian exiles returned to rebuild Jerusalem toward the end of the sixth century BC.

Yet there is remarkable evidence that Jesus looked to a future return and a restored Jerusalem. In Matthew 24 he says that when the Son of Man returns, “all the tribes of the land will mourn,” quoting Zechariah’s prophecy about the inhabitants of Jerusalem mourning when “the LORD will give salvation to the tents of Judah” (Zech. 12:7, 10). Then in Matthew 19:28, Jesus tells his disciples that “in the new world…you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” James Sanders observed in Jesus and Judaism that these repeated references to the twelve tribes imply restoration of Israel, particularly in Jerusalem.[i] Luke records Anna speaking of the baby Jesus “to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38), and Jesus’ expectation that when he returns, Israel will welcome him: “You will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Luke 13:34-35). Luke suggests that the return will be in Jerusalem (Luke 21:24-28).

When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus just before his ascension, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), Jesus did not challenge their assumption that one day the kingdom would be restored to physical Israel. He simply said the Father had set the date, and they did not need to know it yet. It was these sorts of indications in the gospels and Acts that caused Oxford historian Markus Bockmuehl to write that “the early Jesus movement evidently continued to focus upon the restoration of Israel’s twelve tribes in a new messianic kingdom.”[ii]

Paul, Peter, and the writer of the book of Revelation had similar expectations. Paul used Isaiah’s prophecy of restoration in Is. 59 to declare that “all Israel will be saved” at the end of history, when “the deliverer will come from Zion, [and] he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom 11:26). In Acts 3, Peter looked forward to “the times of restoration of all things which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:21). The word Peter uses for “restoration” is the same word (apokatastasis) used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament which the early church used as its Bible) for God’s future return of Jews from all over the world to Israel. In Revelation the Lamb stands “on Mount Zion” in the final stage of history (14:1), and the new earth is centered on Jerusalem, which has twelve gates named after “the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (Rev 21:2, 12). In chapter 11, the nations “trample” upon “the holy city for forty-two months.” What city is this? It is the one “where their Lord was crucified” (11:2, 8). This will take place before or during the time when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ” (v. 15). So in the time of the new heavens and the new earth, that new earth is to be centered in Jerusalem and filled with markers of Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

Paul has long been cast as the apostle to the Gentiles, who supposedly took the focus off Judaism and showed that the gospel was really a universal message for all. It has often been claimed that Paul believed the days of Jewish particularity were over, and the days of non-Jewish universalism had begun. God’s covenant with the Jews was done, according to this view of Paul’s theology, and he has transferred that covenant to the Church. No longer was God concerned with the Jews. They had forfeited their covenant because they had rejected the messiah, Jesus.

This is what Christian theologian Kendall Soulen has termed the “punitive” version of supersessionism, the idea that God made a new covenant with the Church that supersedes his old covenant with Israel because God was punishing Israel for not accepting her messiah. Soulen’s two other kinds of supersessionism are “economic” (in God’s economy or administration of the history of salvation, Israel’s purpose was to prepare for the messiah and so, once he came, Israel had no more purpose) and “structural” (the history of salvation is structured so as not to need Israel in any integral way, except to serve as a negative example).

Although Paul has been read this way for centuries, his letters tell a different story. In Romans 9 and 11, he laments his fellow Jews who have not accepted Jesus as messiah. He says that they cause him “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (9:2). Yet he says “the covenants” still “belong” to them (9:4), and even though they have become “enemies of the gospel,” they still “are beloved” because of their “election” which is “irrevocable” (11:28-29).

Galatians is the letter that is most often used to prove that Paul has dispensed with Jewish law in favor of a Church that has left Israel behind. Yet even here he says the gospel is all about “the blessing of Abraham…com[ing] to the Gentiles” (3:14) because “the promises [of blessing] were made to Abraham and to his offspring” (3:16) so that getting saved means being in Abraham’s family: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (3:29). In other words, the gospel means getting connected to Israel’s history, not getting away from it. In other words, while supersessionism suggests that Israel has been left behind, Galatians says otherwise.

We find the same pattern in Revelation, which is usually dated near the end of the first century. As we have just seen, John writes that the new earth is centered on Jerusalem, with her twelve gates named for the twelve tribes (21:12). It appears, then, that a Zionist vision continued in the New Testament church through at least the end of the first century.

These are only a few of the many signs of Zionism in the New Testament, which is why early Christians continued to expect a future for Israel as a people and land.

Justin Martyr (100-165), one of the best-known second-century Christian writers, expected that the millennium would be centered in Jerusalem. Although he was one of the first replacement theologians (thinking that the church replaced Israel in some sense), his vision of the Church’s future included a particular city in the particular land of Israel:

But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare. (Dialogue with Trypho, chaps. LXXX & LXXXI)

Tertullian (160-c.225) also saw a future for the people and land of Israel. Although he decried “Jews” for their ignorance in putting Jesus to death, and thought that God punished them by tearing “from [their] throat[s]…the very land of promise”, he believed that they would one day be returned to their land:

It will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel. (On Modesty, chap. 8)

A bit later in the third century, the Egyptian bishop Nepos, who according to Robert Wilken “was a respected and admired Christian leader,” foresaw a restoration of Jerusalem and rebuilding of the temple. Millennial teaching was prevalent in that area of third-century Egypt, and had been so for a long time, along with, presumably, faith in a restored Israel.[iii]

This early church Zionism came screeching to a halt with Origen (184-254), who regarded the relationship between the Jewish messiah and the future promise of the land as a zero-sum game. Either one or the other could be fulfilled, not both. In Wilken’s words, “If Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the prophecies about the messianic age had already been fulfilled, and it was the task of biblical interpreters to discover what the spiritual promises meant in light of this new ‘fact.’” So Jerusalem did “not designate a future political center but a spiritual vision of heavenly bliss.” When the psalmist said “the meek shall possess the land,” Origen thought he meant the “pure land in the pure heaven” – not a location on planet earth.[iv]

Augustine was willing to call soil taken from Israel “holy land,” but he spiritualized the promises of land in a way similar to Origen’s. Once Augustine’s amillennial eschatology became accepted in the medieval church, with its assertion that the millennium is simply the rule of Christ through the Church, few medieval thinkers saw a future for the people or land of Israel. All Old Testament prophecies of the future Israel were interpreted to be predictions of the Christian Church that came after the resurrection of Christ.

It took the Reformation’s return to the plain sense of the biblical text to restore confidence that there could be a future role for a particular Israel, both as a people and a land, even while Christian salvation was offered to the whole world. Pietists and Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries became convinced from Old Testament prophecies and Paul’s writings that Jews would return to their land, and would eventually be converted to Christian faith. Long before the rise of dispensationalism in the nineteenth century, Protestants in a variety of churches foresaw a role for a particular Zion in times before the End. Then after the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel in 1948, many Catholic and Protestant theologians recognized from Romans 11 that the rise of the Church did not end God’s continuing covenant with Israel. As theologians brought new focus on that covenant, many came to understand that the land was integral to it.

Karl Barth (1886-1968) was among those who were convinced of God’s continuing covenant with Israel and affirmed the significance of the land. Barth rejected nearly every distinctive teaching of dispensationalism. For example, he repudiated the notion that the End of Days was yet to come, insisting that it started with the coming of Jesus in the first century. He also refused the interpretation of biblical prophecies as straightforward predictions in a literalistic sense, such as the idea that a literal Great Tribulation was to be expected, or that a military battle between particular nations and Israel would take place.

But at the same time Barth thought that these eschatological errors were “errors in the right direction.” He respected millenarian attempts to take seriously God’s sovereignty over world events, including the appearance of Israel as a nation-state in 1948. This was a “secular parable,” as was the rise of socialism in modern history. The sudden reappearance of Israel was a type of resurrection and the Kingdom of God. It was a “little light” that bore witness to the Light of the World in Jesus Christ. The modern history of Israel “even now hurries relentlessly” toward the future of God’s redemptive purposes. According to Barth, biblical revelation points to a threefold parousia of Jesus—the Incarnation, Pentecost, and Christ’s eschatological coming in Israel and the church. This last coming is pointed to by a long string of Old Testament prophecies that speak of the return of Jews to the land, a time when Gentiles shall come to Israel to learn Torah.[v]

Lev Gillet (1893-1980) was another mid-twentieth-century Christian Zionist.   Gillet was a French Catholic who became a Russian Orthodox priest after spending three years with Russians held by Germans during World War I as a prisoner of war. He urged all Christians to realize that Israel has a “special claim” on their goodwill and that the people of Israel have a “privilege” and “priority” to the “birthright” since they are the “elder sons” in God’s family. They are the corpus mysticum into which Gentile Christians are grafted. Therefore the earthly problems of Israel are “not outside” for Gentiles. They ought to make Israel’s problems their own. Hence to help a Jew is to help Israel fulfill the “mysterious identity” to which it is called. Zionism is therefore a theological question which no Christian can ignore.[vi]

What is this mysterious identity? Gillet said Israel was called to the “sufferings of the servant” in Isaiah and to somehow reveal the divine power through those sufferings. Because of the “sacramental” quality of the land, it is only there that a Jew can “feel himself entirely Hebrew.” Martin Buber said the land “is the visible and efficacious sign of a spiritual reality.” This, Gillet wrote, is true for Christians also: “For the Christian, the whole of Palestine is not only the shrine of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; it is also the land of the Presence, the meeting-place of Yahweh and Israel, and the Shekinah may still be felt there.” In other words, the true meaning of the land is spiritual, not political.[vii]

If Barth and Gillet were right, then we might see that previous assumptions about Israel’s Land—that its importance was temporary, like that of the sacrificial system or what Christians have called the “ceremonial law”—were wrong. On closer examination of the biblical text however, we realize that the Mosaic law–with its “ceremonial” commands about worship–was a sign of the covenant, but the Land was part of the covenant itself. In God’s very first statement to Abraham, the Land was central: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:3).

The Land continued to be at the heart of the biblical story: “Of all the promises made to the patriarchs it was that of the land that was the most prominent and decisive.”[viii] Elmer Martens estimated that eretz (land) is the fourth most frequent noun or substantive in the Hebrew Bible, and is more dominant statistically than the covenant.[ix] By my own counting, the eretz of Israel is either directly referred to or implied more than one thousand times in Tanakh, the canon of the Hebrew Bible. Of the 250 times that covenant (b’rit) is mentioned, in 70% of those instances, 177 times, covenant is either directly or indirectly connected to the land of Israel. Of the 74 times that b’rit appears in Torah, 73% of those times, or 54, include the gift of the land, either explicitly or implicitly. According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “Next to God himself, the longing for land dominates all others [in the Hebrew Bible].”[x] In other words, when the biblical God calls out a people for himself, he does so in an earthy way, by making the gift of a particular land an integral aspect of that calling.

But didn’t the author of Hebrews make all this moot when he asserted that the first covenant had been rendered “obsolete” (8:13)? Not really. He was probably referring to the sacrificial system revealed through Moses, which Rome’s destruction of the Temple in 70 AD brought to an end. The letter then moves directly from this initial statement on the obsolescence of sacrifice to a discussion of the tabernacle in the wilderness where “sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper” (Heb. 9:1-2, 9). It is clear from this that by “covenant,” the text means the Mosaic covenant, not the master covenant cut with Abraham.

It is helpful to recall that the Land was God’s principal gift in the master covenant with Abraham in Genesis, and that its promise was never revoked. Jesus spoke of “the blood of the covenant” (Matt 26:28; Mk 14:24), suggesting there was only one fundamental (Abrahamic) covenant, and that the Mosaic law was an aspect of, but not the same as, that fundamental covenant.

Scripture never puts the Land on the same level as Mosaic law. If the latter is binding on Jews but not Gentiles in precisely the same way (simply teaching spiritual principles of holiness to Gentiles), and the Church is overwhelmingly Gentile, in one sense Gentiles can say that it has become obsolete (but not irrelevant) for them. But they can never say that about the people of Israel or the Land of Israel. The Gentiles of faith have been grafted into the olive tree of the people of Israel. And the Land of Israel is God’s “holy abode” (Ex 15.13). Scholars as diverse as (Catholic) Gary Anderson, (Lutheran) Robert Jenson, and (Reformed) Karl Barth have argued that the New Testament authors believed the Land continued to be God’s holy abode.

Scholars have long pointed out that Israel’s enjoyment of the Land was conditional: her people were exiled when they disobeyed the terms of the Mosaic covenant. But just as the original gift of the Land was unconditional and forever, so too the return to the Land was an unconditional gift of grace. Repentance did not precede it. The scriptures suggest instead that repentance and full spiritual renewal will take place after return and restoration. In Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrection of the dry bones, first God says he will take the people of Israel and “bring them to their own land,” and then later “will make them one nation in the land.” Then even later, he “will cleanse them” (Ezek. 37:21, 22, 23). So the relationship between Israel and the Land is governed by both conditional law and unconditioned promise. And fulfillment of that promise proceeds by stages.

Such “New Christian Zionists” as I have touched upon here do not agree on every aspect of their Zionist commitments. Nor do they believe that the state of Israel is a perfect country. Nor that it should not be criticized for its failures. Nor that it is necessarily the last Jewish state we will see before the end of days. Nor that we know the particular timetable or political schema that will come before or in those final days.

But they are convinced that the state of Israel, which includes more than two million non-Jews, is, by God’s grace, what protects the people of Israel today. That support for this state and its people is eroding all over the world. Israel lies in a region of movements and governments bent on its destruction. Mainline Protestants have withdrawn their support. Many evangelicals are now starting to withdraw theirs, using the same faulty arguments of the Protestant mainline.

There are good prudential reasons for supporting Israel today. Israel is an island of democracy and freedom in a sea of authoritarian and despotic regimes. It needs friends as anti-semitism rises precipitously around the world. But Christians also need to know that there are strong theological reasons to believe that the people of Israel continue to be significant for the history of redemption, and that the land of Israel continues to be important to God’s providential purposes.

Gerald R. McDermott is editor of The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land (InterVarsity Academic, forthcoming).

NOTES:

[i] James Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), 98.

[ii] Markus Bockmuehl, Jewish Law in Gentile Churches: Halakhah and the Beginning of Christian Public Ethics (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000), xi.

[iii] Robert L. Wilken, The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 76-77, drawing on Eusebius, The History of the Church 7.24 and other sources.

[iv] Ibid. 70, 72, 77-78.

[v] Carys Moseley, Nationhood, Providence, and Witness: Israel in Protestant Theology and Social Theory (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2013), 234, xxxii, 221-22.

[vi] Lev Gillet, Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship Between Judaism and Christianity (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 158, 161.

[vii] Ibid., 160, 161-62, 167.

[viii] Gerhard von Rad, The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays (London: Oliver and Boys, 1966), 79.

[ix] Elmer A. Martens, God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 97-98.

[x] Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 487-88.

 

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  • Will J

    In Revelation 21 there will be a new Jerusalem. That is the city spoken about in the new testament. In Romans 3 Paul is adamant that God wants all to receive Christ, Jew and gentile.In Hebrews chapter 9 the author says that a new covenant is in effect and that the new couldn’t come to be while the old was still in effect.

  • It’s not the contention that Christian Zionism predates Dispensationalism which is the problem here. The real problem here is the Scriptural case made for this alternative form of Christian Zionism. For the argument itself makes it seem that the person advocating this had a previous commitment to Christian Zionism before coming to the Scriptures.

    Case in point is the Matthew 24:30 reference to ‘all the tribes in the land’ and how that refers back to Zechariah 12:7,10 is a case in point. Whereas the Greek used in Matthew 24:30 is ambiguous as to whether Jesus is talking about all of the tribes of the land or all of the people of the earth, the context from the beginning of the chapter favors the latter since Jesus talks about a global struggle and then his coming. In addition, whereas in Zechariah, the Lord is saving the people, literally speak the tents or tabernacles of Judah according to the Septuagint, the people or tribes mentioned in Matthew 24:30 are ‘mourning’ at the arrival of the Son of Man because He is bringing judgment.

    That, according to Luke, Jesus’ second coming would be in Jerusalem suggests nothing about a restored kingdom since every eye will witness His coming. At the same time, nothing is implied by Jesus’ answer to the question of posed in Acts 1:6 about when the kingdom would be restored. In fact, when we follow that question with the epistles, which is the interpretation of what Jesus said and did, we see that their expectations and hopes were misplaced. The same goes for what was said in Acts 3:21.

    But perhaps the largest errors made in the article above is the interpretation of Paul as saying that he expected a restored kingdom for Israel and Judah on earth. This is easily disputed by reading Romans 9-11 and Galatians 3. Romans 9 starts of with the proper definition of Israel. Israel does not merely consist of those who are the physical descendants of Abraham and Jacob (Romans 9:6-8). Paul goes onto say later in the chapter that the real children of Abraham and thus the inheritors of the promise are those who obtained that promise through faith (Romans 9:30ff; Galatians 3:7-9). That those who rely on the works of the law, which would be what the Jews would rely on should their kingdom be restored, are cursed. And this is one of the major problems for all who believe in 2 distinct peoples of God with one being the restored kingdom of the Jews and the other being the Church.

    In addition, we need to recognize what was the promise to Abraham in both testaments. In the Old Testament, the promise to him was descendants and land for his descendants provided that they receive circumcision. In the New Testament, the promise for both Jewish and Christian believers is that they receive the Holy Spirit because of and through their faith in Christ to save them from their sins.

    What is the connection between these 2 fulfillments? It is the presence of God. In the Old Testament, the presence was localized around the land which God gave to His people. In the New Testament, the presence of God is no longer localized because the promise that had been given to the Jews was now extended to the Gentiles. In addition, the presence of God is fuller in the New Testament than in the Old Testament because that which prohibited God from more fully revealing Himself to His people was eliminated by Christ on the Cross. That is true for both Jews and Christian believers, it is true for believers only including both Jews and Christians together. So that those who are merely the physical descendants of Abraham are children of the flesh (Romans 9:8) and pursued righteousness by works (Romans 9:32) and thus are not children of the promise who receive that promise through faith and thus are not included as being part of Israel.

    But we also have more explicit statements from Paul that contradict the claim made in this article. For example, while the writer above quoted Paul as saying ‘all Israel will be saved‘ (Romans 11:26), realize that this salvation has nothing to do with the restoration of the Jewish earthly kingdom and everything to do with faith in Christ. And to point this out, Paul refers to Elijah and the 7,000 whom God has preserved for himself during that time (Romans 11:1-6).

    There are other parts of the article that need to be addressed, this comment is already too long. In short, those who believe in a physical restoration of Israel during our time assign to the people of God an ethnic group. And experience tells met that that is not the only ethnic group that such people assign to be the people of God. In addition, realize that since the exile and occupation are due to the sins of idolatry and injustice, the restoration of the kingdom must eliminate those two sins for the kingdom to continue. We should note that Modern Zionism started as a European secular venture. There were very legitimate reasons for Jews to seek such a homeland, but the creation of the homeland led to gross practices of injustice in how many modern Zionists regarded and treated the indigenous Arabs. In addition, those who believe in 2 separate peoples of God believe in essence in two Gospels by which people receive God’s blessings. And we explicit warnings from the Scriptures (Galatians 1:1-10) that there is only 1 Gospel while all others lead away from God.

    • John Hutchinson

      Why does it always seem that the Reformed / New Calvinist types have such an abridged and truncated version of the Bible?

      There are outstanding prophecies. The nature of biblical prophecies requires that they be
      fulfilled, and can be scrutinized by reasonable folk as to their fulfillment. If any biblical prophecy is not fulfilled, then the prophet who made such predictions, are by the criteria of Mosaic Law, a false prophet and unreliable. By insisting that everything has been transferred onto “spiritual Israel,” namely the church, those specific prophecies cannot possibly be scrutably recognized.

      To quote from your abridged Scriptures, Gal. 3:17 states “the law, introduced 430 years
      later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.” In other words, the physical state of Israel and works righteousness, was never intended as the means to spiritual salvation. It was only that some Jews and Gentiles in Galatia had come to believe this natural notion of common humanity. And it was to those, Paul addressed in Galatians. However, the means of salvation had always been by faith. The Mosaic covenant had other and overlapping purposes. And just as Moses did not abrogate Abraham, Christ did not abrogate Moses (Matt 5:17–8). They are concurrent covenantal paradigms, not successive. And as I have noted before, Moses was and is never meant as a means for spiritual salvation.

      You quote ‘all Israel will be saved’ (Romans 11:26), However, all can also mean every kind
      or manner (Matthew 4:23, Matthew 12:31), as in every kind of Israel will be saved, both physically and spiritually. Indeed, the very strange inclusion of ‘all’ lends support to the notion. Therefore, who are you to limit the meaning of Scriptures?

      As to your sideswipe of Zionism, “the creation of the homeland led to gross practices of injustice.” By the same argument, “the creation of America led to gross practices of
      injustice.” So what is your point?

      • John,
        Your whole comment on Galatians relies on missing what is said in Galatians 3:16. I will include the surrounding verses to show context:


        15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is [av]based on law, it is no longer [aw]based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

        Note that those who believe in the 2 peoples of God are required to believe in two paths to God’s blessing: the law and the gospel. And yet, as expressed in Acts 15:10, nobody including the Apostles could keep the law. And if you look at Modern Zionism, it started as a European secular venture for very legitimate reasons. But the fact that it was secular, and still is for the most part, would become a reason to invite another judgment.

        So regarding the last part of your note, my question for you is this: Should Christians be alarmed if the US gov’t passed laws that would ensure that Whites would remain the majority race?

        • John Hutchinson

          “Note that those who believe in the 2 peoples of God are required to
          believe in two paths to God’s blessing: the law and the gospel”

          No sir. One is not REQUIRED to believe in two paths. Paul was addressing a belief in the other. But when God in the Old Testament stated “do this and live,” God was not saying that if the Hebrew nation followed the law, they would achieve salvation by works. Rather, He was saying that the natural ontological and sociopolitical consequences of following the wise counsels of God in the Law would allow the nation to survive and prosper. Natural consequence, not special reward.

          “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep
          them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding
          in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes,
          will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deut 4:5-8)

          The rationale for following the law would differentiate between those of faith from those of works righteousness. If a Hebrew followed that law, even if inconsistently and thereby requiring mercy, because of faith in the goodwill and wisdom of God with hope (expectation) of good outcomes, he/she was a true spiritual child of Abraham. If that Hebrew followed that law with hopes of meriting salvation by works as special reward for following the laws, he/she was as the Galatians (or the Hindus, Muslims or any of those of natural humanity who operate in regard towards God with their mercenary motives). The Gospel did not really change between Old and New Testaments. Salvation was always through faith.

          Even if some in this day believe that there are two paths to God to receive God’s blessing, it is not necessarily proclaimed as so in the Scriptures. And therefore, God can operate at two different paradigms, both the “physical” and the “spiritual” for two separate purposes, joined in the end towards one end in Christ; just as He did from the very beginning with his concurrent Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants.

          I emerge from the tradition that you are from. However, I refuse to be stuck in its butt when Scriptures tells me otherwise. If I speak a bit brusquely, it is because I find the arrogance of the Reformed / Calvinist tradition incorrigibly incapable of truly practicing semper reformanda.

          • John,
            No, if one believes there are two distinct peoples of God, especially when they believe that it is Jews and Christians, you are required to believe that there are two paths, the way of the Gospel for Christians and the way of the law for Jews. Otherwise, you are required to believe what Paul said in that the two have been merged into one under the same Gospel.

            Note what you wrote before:


            You quote ‘all Israel will be saved’ (Romans 11:26), However, all can also mean every kind

            or manner (Matthew 4:23, Matthew 12:31), as in every kind of Israel will be saved, both physically and spiritually. Indeed, the very strange inclusion of ‘all’ lends support to the notion. Therefore, who are you to limit the meaning of Scriptures?

            Israel’s salvation in the OT was the land. Why? Because it gave them rest from their enemies. But it was a conditional salvation that was contingent on them keeping the law. To live outside of the law was to invite judgment on and end to their salvation. In addition, according Genesis, their access to the promises of Abraham was through the keeping of the covenant of being circumcised. Without circumcision, they forfeit the promises of the land through Abraham. But note that in Galatians 5, Paul explicitly says that to rely on circumcision to receive the promise of Abraham, is to rely on the law and no one can fulfill the law.

            So the law is impossible to keep. And thus Jesus came to battle Israel’s real enemy: sin. And with that Gospel comes the Great Commission telling the Israel of God not to congregate in the land where because that would God’s dwelling place. Rather, they were told to go throughout the earth to preach the Gospel and make disciples and, according to Paul in Galatians 3, the promise of Abraham, that is the Holy Spirit would go with them. In the Old Testament, God dwelt in a specific locality to be with His people. In the New Testament, God’s Spirit is poured out on all flesh so that regardless of one’s location, they have access to the fulness of God in person.

            There is another problem with having two distinct peoples of God with the Jews keeping the land and the Gentiles having the Gospel. That problem is in the hermenuetic being employed. For either one will force a literal reading of the Old Testament onto the New Testament and interpret the New Testament by the Old Testament, which is what you did. Or one will use a literal reading of the New Testament and use that to interpret the Old Testament. And since the Old Testament contatined only shaddows and types of what would become manifest in the New Testament, guess which Testament should be literally read and used to interpret the other one?

            Note what you wrote before:


            You quote ‘all Israel will be saved’ (Romans 11:26), However, all can also mean every kind or manner (Matthew 4:23, Matthew 12:31), as in every kind of Israel will be saved, both physically and spiritually. Indeed, the very strange inclusion of ‘all’ lends support to the notion. Therefore, who are you to limit the meaning of Scriptures?

            But the use of ‘all’ in Romans 11 is not the natural reading of what Paul wrote there. Rather, you speculate and say ‘it can also mean every kind or manner’ as in Jesus healing those in Matthew 4. But Paul is clearly not talking about every kind of manner. He is specifally repeating what he said in Romans 9 where he states that not all who are descendants of Israel belong to Israel. The Scriptures have a specific meaning here rather than any meaning that could possibly be attached to it. If we attach every possible meaning as being the meaning of the Scriptures, we have the Scriptures eventually giving multiple mixed messages some of which will contradict others.

            Why does Paul mention Elijah and the 7,000 whom God preserved from worshiping other gods in Romans 11? Again, was it to repeat what was said in Romans 9:6? Read Romans 9:6-15 and see who belongs to Israel.

            So the question I would ask you as you read not just Romans 9:6-15, but Romans 9-11, Are you using a literal interpretation of the Old Testament to understand the New Testament or are should you be using a literal interpretation of the New Testament to understand the shaddows that were included in the Old Testament?

          • John Hutchinson

            It is a waste of time discoursing with a Reformed / Calvinist for reasons like this.

            “Israel’s salvation in the OT was the land. But it was a conditional salvation that was contingent on them keeping the law.”

            Your tradition has fashioned a theology that states “Israel’s salvation in the OT was the land,” claiming that is the magisterial truth, and defining Scriptures by your Tradition. However, a plain rendering of Scriptures does not actually declare that.

            This was the same problem that the Reformed / Calvinist boys had with Sanders / Dunn / Wright in regard to Second Temple Judaism. The first time that I heard about their thesis that some Jews saw their salvation as covenant membership, I said “what’s
            new.” Some did so. It says so right in the text (John the Baptist, Jesus in John 8 or 9, and Romans 2). However, because the Reformed / Calvinist had their butts up their Tradition, they fought tooth and nail for decades to deny what was right before their noses. Thereby, they discredited themselves. But more so, they discredited in the eyes of outsiders, the few truths that Reformed / Calvinists still yet hold that are of essential value. Wright has more and increasing resonance than the Reformed / Calvinists. And I must disown Reformed / Calvinists in order to effectually defeat Wright.

            I do not trust one single hermeneutic or epistemology. That was the problem with Luther (everything to be filtered through Justification) and with the Calvinists (everything filtered through Sovereignty of God). Christ / Paul used natural theology
            contra Barth. Christ / Paul used reason contra the irrationality of modern Reformed / Calvinism. Christ / Paul used empiricism as an epistemological measure (“By their fruits you will know them.”) The perverted interpretation of Col 2:8 by English translators seems to condemn all philosophy when, in fact, the Greek
            declares that it is foundations of certain philosophies that to be repudiated. Consequently, existential philosophical questions, which underlie the Gospel, are not found by mining the Scriptures but through conscripting the presuppositions of Plato and Aristotle, such as the “law written into the hearts of [natural] men” (which is Plato, Meno, Phaedo).

            The wisdom of God is manifold (Eph 3:10). If I insist upon a NT defines everything hermeneutic, I am prone to become a Romanist/Orthodox ascetic, which is exactly what history has proven. If I insist upon a NT only hermeneutic, I miss the
            comprehension of the necessity of the Atonement scrupulously satisfying the objective principles of an exact and exacting divine and universal justice. This is what modern Reformed / Calvinist / Evangelical church has done (excluding the TVC) – insisting that the Atonement sated the subjectivist and inscrutable wrath of God through the amount of suffering of Christ, instead of satisfying the objective principles of justice through the intrinsic supremacy of Christ as the criteria. And I am actually on firm historical grounds as demonstrated by early documents of the Reformation as the Canons of Dort. One attribute of justice is scrutability by those who are governed under such, as Rom 3:21-26 intimates. SO I LET EACH NT AND OT INTERPRET EACH OTHER WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

            The Reformed / Calvinist Tradition knows nothing about the principles of Justice, as defined within the Hebrew Scriptures, because of their concentration on NT hermeneutic. And if a Tradition knows nothing about Justice / Judgment, they are henceforth useless as teachers of the Gospel (Math 23:23).

            —-

            “Rather, you speculate and say ‘it can also mean every kind or manner’ as in Jesus healing those in Matthew 4. But Paul is clearly not talking about every kind of manner.”

            Who says? Your informal magisterium? No. I do not speculate. I allow for it. I do not preclude it. And Paul could very well be talking about multiple kinds of “salvation” in this instance. It is you and your Tradition that precludes that possibility in your theological esoterica and spiritual allegorization of everything in
            Scriptures (cum Origen). I have still not heard a response to the yet unfilled prophecies which cannot possibly be scrutinized nor epistemologically recognized as pertaining to “spiritual Israel.”

            There is only one salvation. But the practical manner by which God moves the Jewish tribe may go first through the fulfillment of ancient prophecies as pertaining the land and aliyah, which I do not obfuscate by spiritual allegorization of all prophecy. God is always beyond the cage of any current theological box that I might wish to contain Him, which is usually done in order to keep this God at arm’s length and safe from disturbing one’s Tradition.

            I am done with this conversation.

          • John,
            Isral’s possession of the land was determined by their keeping of the covenant. That isn’t theological speculation, it is Scripture. Note what Genesis 17:6-14 says:


            6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

            9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your [dd]descendants. 13 A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

            But then note what Paul said about circumcision and the promise to Abraham in Galatians 5:2-6


            2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who [cf]are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we [cg]through the Spirit, [ch]by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

            Finally, I never gave a false choice an exclusive use of an Old Testament hermeneutic vs a New Testament one. What I did say is that if you take a literal approach to understanding to the Old Testament regarding the covernants and Israel, then you are forced to take a nonliteral approach to reading the New Testament verses regarding the same subject. Note the above example regarding the covenant with Abraham and what Paul said in Galatians. Paul explicitly states that if you rely on circucision, and this has to do with the blessing of Abraham (see Galatians 3), then you are bound to keep the law and thus are cutoff from the blessing because you are cutoff Christ. And yet, the Genesis 17 passage states that circumcision is the sign of the covenant with Abraham. Once you try to explain the disparity with the two peoples approach, you have inserted or read into Paul what isn’t there.

            It isn’t that the Old Testament can’t tell us important information about Christ, after all the Old Testament gives us shadows and types of Christ. But they are exactly that, they are shaddows and types. Seeing that the Old Testament was pointing toward Christ and that that Christ fulfills all that is in the Old Testament and that the Epistles are the interpretation of what Christ did, we need to use the New Testament reailities to interpret the Old Testament because Christ is the full revelation of God to interpret the Old Testament. In fact, this is what Paul did in both Romans especially chapters 9-11 and Galatisns.

            BTW, note that I haven’t reduced the Scriptures to a single theme such as Luther and Calvin, whom you mentioned, or Ridderbos who reduced the Scriptures to the theme of redemptive history. I agree with you that such reductionism is wrong. All I have said is what I said before, if you take a literal interpretation to understanding the covenants and Israel from the Old Testament, you are often forced to not take the same approach to the New Testament which seems odd because the New Testament contatins both the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the interpretation of the work of Christ.

            Now while you want to scapegoat Reformed Theology for the disagreements here, note that I’ve been careful to stay with the Scfriptures. And if you can be so disparaging about borthers and sisters who are from the Reformed tradition, then I would encourage you to note that you are either writing against those for whom Christ died or you are implying that those from the Reformed Tradiition are not Christians. That is something I would never say about Christian Zionists. Note that I have not said about Christian Zionists what you have said about those from the Reformed Tradition.

            In addition, you never answered the question that I asked you twice and I guess we will never get the answer.

          • John Hutchinson

            Are Reformed theologians really brothers in Christ if their faith is ultimately grounded upon the magisterium of their Tradition and theological innovations, instead of upon Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Spirit? (“Thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” Mark 7:13) Why do I always feel like Martin Luther before the Romanists whenever I encounter contemporary Reformed/Calvinists? Why are their churches so moribund?

            How utterly perverted is a Tradition which claims that humanity is collectively guilty in Adam (Rom 5), when Hebrew Scriptures declaims the concept of collective guilt (Deut 24, Ezekiel 18); although allowing for the consequences of sin to be visited upon the descendants of the sinner, (which is an intrinsic property of sin). And then to have a theological charlatan like Sproul clamor “who are we to question the obvious injustice and inconsistency with Scriptures,” and wrap this judicial perversity in the banner of Mystery. God is not above His own principles that He claims to govern us by (Ps 97:2, 89:14). He does not have a Napoleonic or Nixonian complex. If we are to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1), I should never want to have a Reformed theologian as a judge/ruler of any ecclesiastical or sociopolitical jurisdiction, if he legislate principles which he himself is not bound. It is unforgivable in a Tradition, which continues to boast of this scripturally unwarranted, rationally indefensible, and morally perverse travesty.

            I doubt that I would be classified as a Christian Zionist by the Jews or the CHristian Zionists. But then you are presuming, without actually working through what I am saying.

            Christ fulfilled the Law in those who have covenanted with Him through faith and given a New Law to them. He has not fulfilled or changed the Law for those who have not so covenanted. The works of the Mosaic Law are still in place, not as a political charter, but as a transparent criteria for divine judgment (Rom 2, particularly vv14-15). They were not abolished. The applicable Greek word means made ineffectual/idle for those in Christ. But to the extent that any person concurs with any of them but violates them (Matt 7:2), he stands culpable for those with which he concurred (the unassailable argument against inclusivism).

            “What I did say is that if you take a literal approach to understanding
            to the Old Testament regarding the covenants and Israel, then you are
            forced to take a nonliteral approach to reading the New Testament verses
            regarding the same subject.”

            Why one or the other? Why is it not possible to take both a literal and spiritualized approach to reading any passage. Do you honestly think that the Song of Solomon is only about the physical act of union? Is it not also a metaphor for psychological union of human souls? Is it not also demonstrating the ethos, but not the particulars, of spiritual union between Christ and Church? Do I actually have to choose between Mark Driscoll and Origen on the Songs?

            Is God not a God of parables, anthropomorphisms, and metaphor? Is marriage not a metaphor to be lived out?

            When Jesus said “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe
            is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the
            only Son of God” (John 3:18); was He only talking in a universal and atomistic salvific sense? In light of the fact that Pompey had conquered Judea in 63 BC and that the standard Roman imperial policy was to crush the spirit and distinctiveness of conquered societies into the lifeless mediocrity of the common Roman pantheon; do you not think that Christ was also alluding to his Jewish interlocutors, the notion that the national society of Judea was also in a state of condemnation if they failed to believe in Him, which came to full fruition in 135 AD, not 70 AD.

            “Israel’s possession of the land was determined by their keeping of the
            covenant. That isn’t theological speculation, it is Scripture.”

            If a Hebrew followed the Law, their state was naturally benefited. But even in the Old Testament/Covenant, spiritual salvation (as opposed to national salvation) was always by/through faith in the wisdom and goodwill of a God who so counseled. The motivational vehicle in the Old Covenant for spiritual salvation was faith, just as in the New (Gen 15:6, Heb 11). If a Hebrew in the ancient state followed the Mosaic Law, not because of concern about spiritual salvation or not because of faith in the natural inherent goodness of the laws, but because he thought that in abiding by them, he would be especially rewarded for his works righteousness, he would have stood condemned just as in the New Covenant. This fact is not put in plain doctrinal sight as it in the New Testament. But it is there in cryptic form. Works righteousness was never the means of salvation in the Old Testament / Covenant. It was however erroneously considered to be so by people both in Old and New covenant times, because it is a natural propensity of human nature and his natural religious instinct, as demonstrated by the Hindu and Muslim faiths et al.

            The Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled in Christ, not the Mosaic. The Abrahamic-Christian covenant(s) and the Mosaic covenant were always separate and parallel covenantal structures with much interplay, but with a different set of divine purposes.

            I am not sure what your contention is regarding circumcision. “the sign of the covenant” is by definition a sign/symbol. Signs are not premises to be relied upon. The existence and continuance of a marriage is not premised on a ring, religious blessing, or civic license. Otherwise, I do not understand Gen 24:67 in which the immutable God of Scriptures says they were married.

          • John,
            Think about your first statement:


            Are Reformed theologians really brothers in Christ if their faith is ultimately grounded upon the magisterium of their Tradition and theological innovations, instead of upon Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Spirit?

            Now think about what I wrote about using the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament: In the note above, I quoted both Genesis 17:6-14 and Galatians 5:2-6 inorder to show that if you have 2 people of God, you have two paths to righteousness. Now you can claim that I miapplied the Scriptures, but you can’t say that I relyed on tradition instead of the Scriptures to make my points. In fact, I never quote a Reformed theologian or a confession. My argument about Israel was based on the Scriptures.

            What were your arguments based on? They were based on reading into the New Testament because of how you interpreted the Old Testament. And I pointed out that your approach to the Old Testament requires that you cannot take a literal approach to reading the New Testament because you were aready doing that to the Old Testament and a literal approach to both ended up in a contradiction.

            In addition, we prefer to take a literal approach to the New Testament because the Old Testament contains only shadows of what iwas coming with Christ. See Colossians 2:16-17:


            Therefore no one is to [n]act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [o]day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the [p]substance [q]belongs to Christ

            I could also cite Hebrews 7:26-8:5 or Luke 24:27.

            It is one thing to disagree, but my argument was, for the most part, from the Scriptures, not from the traditions of man. But regardless, if one learns and believes the Gospel, whether they learn that from traditions, which are mere interpretations of the Word of God, or directly from the Scriptures, isn’t that person a Christian?

            I agree that Reformed peopl do rely too much on tradition, but I didn’t do that in our discussion.

            Let me ask, do you believe in doctrines or interpretations of the Bible that are wrong or are all your beliefs perfect? If you do have erroneous beliefs, are you not saved because your beliefs must have no error?

            It is too easy for you to condemn those from the Reformed Tradition. But when we condemn others so easily, are we not like the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying?

            As for you being a Christian Zionist, if you believe, and you appeared to by your statements, that the land of Israel and Judah from the Old Testament belongs exclusively to the Jews, then that makes you a Christian Zionist. And you appeared to say that.

            Also, remember that the Jews were judged for not following the Law of Moses. They were put into exile for not following the Law of Moses. They were not put into exile because they were no longer circumcised (Genesis 17). Yet, Paul, in Galatians 5, states that if you depend on circumcision to receive the promise of Abraham, you must keep the whole law. And as for the purpose of the law, Paul describes it in both Romans 5 and Galatians 4.

            And if you are going to eamine a quote of mine like what I said about Israel’s posession of the laand, remember that I referred to Genesis 17 as proof for the point I was making. But look at your response to that. You were not referring to any scriptures. Rather, you were referring to your beliefs.

            And what was my statement regarding circumcision about? It was about the Abrahamic covenant as expressed in Genesis 17. I even quoted the scripture passage for you.

            So when you complain that people from the Reformed Traditions rely on their traditions instead of the Word of God, look over our correspondence and see how many times I appealed to the Scriptures vs how many times I appealed to theological, confession, or tradition.

          • John Hutchinson

            Curt:

            You actually have to fairly and accurately contend with what I actually have said. I am aware that there are dispensationalists who subscribe to a two peoples of God motif, although I think that this has become a minority position. I am not actually sure of the state of Disp., having stopped following it 35 years when becoming aware of the carnal/spiritual Christian motif.

            But what I claim is far more complex and subtle than you are giving fair license.

            There has always been but one people of God; those with the faith of Abraham, whether prior to Christ or thereafter. My argument has been that God operates at multiple levels with multiple purposes. And the Mosaic Covenant’s purpose was a secondary and concurrent covenant to that of Abraham. Those with the faith of Abraham will follow the Law because of faith in God and His counsel that that Law will naturally bring ontological and existential good to Israel, of whose benefits that person will share. Others will follow the Law because they expect to be rewarded for their virtue. Faith versus good works. And the works paradigm was in existence well before Christ, because it is a universal and ahistorical human religious “instinct,” which becomes evident as one becomes aware of the ideas within other religious faiths. The failure in Reformed thought seems to be in believing that this “works”paradigm was the operational and approved paradigm prior to Christ, but which changed with the advent of Christ. That was never so. Hebrews 11 with its illustration of ancient heroes of faith is one of many Scriptural evidences that faith was always the saving paradigm, before or after Christ.

            There are certain hermeneutical principles that apply throughout Scriptures. One of them is that a prophecy made will be fulfilled and will be fulfilled in such a way that it can be epistemologically ascertained by honest and reasonably competent people. This is not plausible for Old Testament prophesies if fulfillment after Christ is in regards to “spiritual Israel.”

            Of the many purposes of prophecy, one of the main ones (or the main one) is as a witness of the verity of the God of Scriptures and of His Christ to outsiders. That witness is usually in the form of an “after the fulfillment of the event” paradigm.

            My argument with regard to physical Israel is this. The prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel (in 1948) and the immigration to that country from lands specified in Isaiah 11, for instance, are not a case of that nation and its peoples being a “second people of God” with a different paradigm towards salvation.

            It is that the Jewish restoration is the vehicle through which God will bring many of its people to faith in Christ; not because of the physical restoration, but most likely only after demonstrating that having one’s own land is not sufficient to save them apart from God in Christ. In this, one must be aware of how the Jews of Israel think. I can and do perceive how God can operate at different level, even if ultimately for the purposes a single culmination of the True Kingdom and His King. There is a complexity in God’s workings.

            Because I believe in a tribulation and an Antichrist, although rejecting the silly notion of a left-behind rapture, (historical premillenialism being the position of the first 2-3 century Christians), I can perceive how on two levels, physical Israel and visible (physical) church, being buffeted by their respective enemies, might seek shelter in that same Antichrist. The operations governing each entity are different, but resulting in the same covenant with death. Now you may not agree with this notion. However, my point here is more to show how the dynamics of multiple and concurrent processes can culminate in a single and unified end at different levels.

            There are prophecies in the New Testament which largely concern “spiritual Israel,” just as prophecies in the Old Testament mostly concern “physical Israel.” Indeed, both sets of prophecies could be realized and epistemologically ascertained by honest and reasonably competent believers. I really do not understand your hang-up about there being a multiple fold dynamics in God’s dealings with existence, while there ultimately being one unified culmination, one people, and one means to salvation.

            I, as a Christian, am governed by the New Covenant, with no direct (operative word) reliance on the Old Covenant laws. The ethos (spirit of the laws rather than its principles) of the Old Testament is helpful in balancing out perceived tendencies in the New. However, there still exist non-Christians. And they are not governed by the same New Covenant paradigm as Christians. For missional purposes, i must comprehend that other paradigm.

            Now I appropriate Scriptures with this multiple paradigm because of its successful way of making clear history and current events. It gives clarity. You cannot get clarity if you read OT prophecies into “spiritual Israel.”

            “Are Reformed theologians really brothers in Christ if their faith is
            ultimately grounded upon the magisterium of their Tradition and theological innovations, instead of upon Scriptures and the Magisterium of the Spirit?”

            This was intended more in relationship to the examples given thereafter; for instance the imputation of Adam’s sin, even though judicially perverse. And Sproul and company will insist upon this judicial absurdity because they believe Christ’s righteousness cannot be otherwise imputed or our sins and transgressions imputed upon Him, if it is not likewise true for Adam. However, such Reformed folk miss the judicial importance of the voluntariness of Christ’s sacrifice (John 10:17-18). If God coercively ascribes sin from guilty party to innocent party, it is injustice. If however, Christ willingly consents to bear the guilt, there is no violation of justice. Hereby, Christ’s imputation is judicially virtuous, while the consequences of Adam’s sin can be visited upon his descendants, which in turn, causes an incorrigibly corrupt nature and makes each person in turn a sinner, while the sin of Adam itself, is Adam’s own. This is not unjust of God, because it the unjust workings of sin that causes ontological sinfulness in the descendants.

          • John Hutchinson

            How can you Curt apply Isaiah 11:11-13 to spiritual Israel?

            In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush,a from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
            He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel,and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
            The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.

            What would that look like? Those place names are known places. How would the church be recovered a “second time?” A signal for the nations (Gentiles) regarding Israel and Judah? Who is spiritual Judah? At what time was spiritual Ephraim and spiritual Judah at loggerheads? Spiritualizing this passage is neither coherent nor rational.

          • John Hutchinson

            As per your Scriptures (Col 2:16-7, Heb 7:26-Heb 8:5), the thing I find is that the Reformed tend to interpret them as a historical fulfillment rather than as a logical fulfillment. For those in Christ (Rom 10:4) these are true. But they have no bearing for those not in Christ.

            As per your taking offense about my general irritation with Reformed tendencies, I do apologize if I applied them (or seemed to have applied them) to you. It was a general conditional statement. If a person relies on Tradition whether Romanist or Reformed or Orthodox etc, my conditional statement is true. They will go astray, unless repented thereof, because there will come a time when they must choose between Scriptures and Tradition. And that will be demonstrable point at which they will demonstrate upon whom is their ultimate trust. And in that their trust is on Tradition, they are not true brethren. Erasmus concurred with Luther about the many faults of the Roman church. But he could take himself away from the safety and comforts of Mother Church.

            I acknowledge that one can have different takes on eschatology. And frankly, it has historically not really mattered what eschatology one has had. And I generally don’t give it much thought because there are generally more important theological matters which are in a derelict state. However,eschatology will really matter when one is required to conduct one’s life upon one’s eschatological beliefs in a real and practicable way. Honestly held wrong beliefs are no indication of one’s Christian status, except for essentials, and those essentials are fewer than most confessional churches insist upon. But if one must make decisions (i.e. mark of the beast), but one has hitherto dismissed the practicable reality of prophetic passages (due to amillenialism for instance), one may enter into hazardous situations.

          • John,
            No apology is need, I have my irritations as well with some Reformed people who use the confessions in place of using the Scriptures.

            As for eschatology, it does matter some. For example, what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 is interpreted as already having taken place in history when Roman soldiers attacked Jerusalem in around 70 AD.

            As for you comments about distinguishing between historical and logical fulfillments, your meaning is still vague. As for the Old Testament containing shaddows of the future, I agree with and I think that applies to the land. Some Key points:

            1. Romans 9 & 11 distinguish between the true Israel and Israel by mere physical descendants.

            2. The fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham is different between the two Testaments. In the Old Testament, it was the land. In the New Testament, is the Spirit When we undertand the Spirit as being God’s presence with us, I don’t think it is difficult to understand how the land served as a shadow for having the Spirit in the New Testament.

            3. What we might disagree on is to find a literal interpetation of the promises made to Abaraham in the Old Testament that are fulfilled today outside of what was specified by the New Testament.

            And thank you for continuing the conversation.

          • John Hutchinson

            Sorry. i was working and it thoroughly depletes me.

            Land as metaphor for Spirit is a concept I have to think about. Not opposed to it. Just never thought about it.

            As per historical versus logical fulfillment. I follow a NCT (New Covenant Theology), which is still a WIP. However, apparently I don’t follow NCT according to its adherents because I do not see the old Covenant historically ending upon Christ. But I do see it logically ending (telus, into completion) with Christ (Rom 10:4). But for those, not in Christ, the overriding paradigm upon which they will be judged is provisions of the Old Covenant with which they agree but violate (Rom 2:14-5, Matt 7:2). Heb 8:13 states that the old will soon disappear but not yet but that is still after Christ. And Matt 5:18 states that it is operable until heaven and earth pass away. So for those in Christ, Christ has fulfilled all the provisions of O/T regulations on their behalf, and thus Christians are guided by provisions in NT + Spirit application. But that doesn’t the end historical legal effectuality.

            So while CT believes that Christ expounded (a.k.a. changed) old Covenant (1 law, 2 administrations), NCT believes in supersessionism of OC with NC. I subscribe to NC as new and separate and parallel with OC. I don’t know what Disps believe. I don’t think they have a theological name for this interpretation and probably no following. But this brings a clarity to me among other benefits to understanding. “Book” out within 2 years or so.

            Another innovation you might want to think about is that some of the prophecies concerning Jerusalem were not fulfilled until 135 AD. This will really irritate the Preterists. But the basis is this. Unlike Matthew 24, Luke 19:44 speaks of Jerusalem, not the temple only – “They will not leave one stone on another.” We know for historical fact that this does not happen until 135 AD when even the towers are ploughed under (along with probably remaining structures in Zion district). Between 70 – 135, Jerusalem lays pretty much fallow with promises by some Emperors to Jews to rebuild. But only after Hadrian does it get renovated from ground up as a Gentile city with a new name. This begins the true “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24, Rom 11:25).

            Because I am lifelong student of Roman history, the story of the Jews within the Roman empire follows standard imperial policy except that it 200 years with much violence compared to other ethnics. And it makes the story of the total humiliation of the Jewish nation (Judea) and its peoples within Rome more coherent and complete in 135 AD rather than 70 AD.

          • John,
            I will get back to the rest of your comment later, but I wanted to emphasize that there is a signficant difference between OT shadows and metaphors. OT shadows are actual physical objects that played a role in history. Metaphors are literary devices used to illustrate a point.

          • On the one hand, you are thinking through things yourself. But we must always be careful about innovations. It isn’t that they are always false, but they should be a concern. When you are referring to Heb 8:13, you need to enter the time in which the words were first spoken, during the Old Testament. That the new makes the old obsolete and that which is obsolete is disappearing. That applies to when the announcement of the second covenant. We have a new covenant now. But the two don’t coexist. And that is where we need to be careful and that is where I noted that when we say there are two people of God, we imply two ways of salvation.

            One other thing is that what is clear should not be interpreted by what is unclear. The lack of clarity in some of the Old Testament prophecies and our attempts to see how they were fulfilled should not cause us to reinterpret those verses that are clear. And we know from Galatians 3-4 and Romans 9-11 that all of the people of God are united into one group. And what makes us a person of God is faith inJesus Christ. Outside of Christ, we are subject to the law. In Christ, we have the promise of the Spirit. Note here that the promise of the land had become obsolete because it was surpassed with the promise that came with Christ and was disappearing.

          • John Hutchinson

            The concept of co-existence of dual covenants is hardly novel. “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not
            annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise
            void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Gal 3:17-8). And indeed, Christ and His new covenant is a fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic.

            Spiritually, the Mosaic covenant was never intended to create a (spiritual) people of God. You could obey the Mosaic covenant because you believed in the goodwill and wisdom of God such that by abiding, good natural consequences would result. (That is an obedience based on Abrahamic faith.) Or you could obey because you thought that you would merit special reward for obedience, outside of good natural consequences. (That is an obedience based on natural human religion.) I say this because such notions can be found in Islam, Hinduism, and some of the old pagan religions. The whole idea of ancient sacrifice operates upon the notion of mercenary “do ut des” – “I give that you might give.” And it was that which Paul was contending in Galatia.

            Christians have a New Covenant. But since covenants, like any agreement require, by definition, free consent, if one has not come to Christ, one has hardly entered into that New Covenant.

          • John,
            When talking about innovation, I was talking about what you wrote:


            Another innovation you might want to think about is that some of the prophecies concerning Jerusalem were not fulfilled until 135 AD.

            Second, again, please interpret the Old Testaament by what is clearly said in the New Testament. To wonder off the path of what was said in the New Testament is to seek an innovation that will slowly cause us to stray from the Gospel. And what we will find is what we wanted to find in the first place, not what God has revealed.

            What we know about the Mosaic Covenant is already described in the New Testament. Galatians 3-4, for example, shows us the purpose of the Law, the Mosaic Covenant. There are other NT passages that deal with the Mosaic Covenant. One of the most important is Acts 15 This contradicts what you claim about being able to obey the Mosaic Covenant:


            Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. 10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”[e] 12 The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

            Here, note verse 10 in particular. Neither the ancestors of the Apostles nor the Apostles could fulfill the Law.

            See, if one has not come to Christ, one is condemend by the Law. That is the clear message of the New Testament and it renders talk of two distinct people senseless. IN Galatians 3 and Romans 9-11, Jews and Gentiles are merged into one group under the same covenant and faith.

          • John Hutchinson

            Nothing I have said actually contradicts what you claim regarding salvation.

            “See, if one has not come to Christ, one is condemned by the Law.”

            One is condemned by violating conscience but which is also in accordance with a stated law (Rom 2:14-5) even if one not aware of the existence of that stated written law, because that written law is according to truth (Rom 2:2), that is that that law has resonance within objective realities. That law cannot be the New Covenant laws because Christ does not logically figure at that point.of Paul’s Rom 1:18 – 3:31 discourse. And this is true for a person in 1000 AD or 2000 AD as in Christ’s time.

            As a principle of law and justice (and I know that I would need many citations from Scriptures to demonstrate that Scriptures agree, which I hope I don’t have to); in order for a person to be condemned by a law, that law must be in active judicial force at the time one violates that law. The laws cannot have been abrogated of legal force (Rom 4:15, 5:13) If the old covenant of laws had actually been abrogated around 2,000 years ago,,upon what legal criteria is God’s judgment after that abrogation . The issue here is not a matter of salvation but divine judgment. Herein, I am not concerned at all with creating 2 distinct ways of salvation and 2 peoples, but with fulfilling the mandate of Matt 23:23.

            My concern regarding the “abrogation” of OT law is this. New Testament laws do not make coherent sense except in the context of heavenly realities. They have a telos directed towards pursuing the cause of the “kingdom not of this world.”

            The Old Testament laws make more sense, in principle, in the context of this world. The telos is justice rather than NT’s which is about grace. For missional purposes, to say that a sinner is guilty of violating New Testament laws is not credible. What would Matt 5:38-42 do to social order?

            NT laws makes sense to a Christian because the Christian does not say that the perpetrator does not deserve justice, but that the Christian reserves judgment to His creator in order to give that perpetrator some time to repent. This makes sense only in the context of the heavenly realities being true, known, and believed.

            The so-called 135 AD innovation has actually nothing to do with Old
            Testament prophecies, but rather of 3 NT prophecies plus making more sense of a lot of Christ’s sayings. It serves many benefits and purposes but is not pertinent to your primary concerns.

          • John
            Our main concern is not about gentiles believing in Christ, it is about the promise of Abraham being the land for the Jews during New Testament times. And it seems that you insist on spliting the people of God and the promise of Abraham into two while denying doing so. And if you do that, you are bound by the Scriptures to have two means of salvation because you have two kinds of salvation–the heavenly kind and the earthly kind. This thinking does not come from the New Testament

        • John Hutchinson

          “And if you look at Modern Zionism, it started as a European secular venture for very legitimate reasons. But the fact that it was secular, and still is for the most part, would become a reason to invite another judgment.”

          To reprise Shakespeare – “There are more things in the ways of God, Curt, than are dreamt of in your theology.”

          The modern Jews did not go to Israel in obedience to Scriptures. As you say truly, most were secular. And the religious Judaic orthodoxy was initially opposed. However, it is also true that the Assyrians and Babylonians were not obeying God, in fulfilling His will for them as Israel’s spankers. And the inordinate number of prophecies concerning the aliyah in the last days is mostly happening because of Jews being compelled, indeed being spat out of the countries in which they were residing, not as consequence of obedience.

          One has to conceive this rebirth and immigration into Israel as a demonstration of the dynamics of grace, not in the paradigm of works righteousness. To keep the promises to the Hebrew patriarchs, to honor His own name despite the dishonoring of it
          by those who claimed to be His, as a palpable sign of His reality and character to an agnostic world, as the historical fulfilment of the Hosea parable, God could do this in the order that He is doing it (i.e Ezekiel 36 then 37).

          So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to
          which they came. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been
          profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. (Ezekiel 36: 18–24)

          I do not think that the Jewish state is consequence of deserving. I do not think that Jews are more special than ethnics. I think that Jews do awful things, but no less so than ethnics. However, I see the prophecies. I know that prophesies must be fulfilled in a way that is epistemologically scrutable. And I see that scrutable fulfillment. I will not deny that which is manifestly evident.

          Obtuse allegiance to (Reformed) tradition may miss that which is right in front of your nose.

          • John,
            If you follow history, the reason for wanting to go to Israel is because they experienced either marginalization or cruel persecution in the nations in which they sought to fit in and belong to.

            Now, what has that seeking resulted in. It has resulted in a cruel oppression of the indigenous non-Jewish people of Palestinie including Arabs, Bedouins, and other groups. And realize that some Arabs, Bedouin and others are Christian believers.

            Now as your speculation of what God could do becomes actual facts to you, God’s people, Christians, are included among those Palestinians who are being persecuted by the secular government of Israel. How does that fit in with your speculation about fulfilling Old Testament prophecies? How does that fit in with Galatians 3:28?

            If you want to understand the Old Testament, read through the eyes of the New Testament. For what is written in the New Testament gives a different picture of Israel than what you speculate to be. Otherwise, all you have stated is a restoration of the Old Testament Israel complete with their duty to follow the law as a condition for their living in the Promised Land.

            Finally, you did not answer the question I asked you. Regarding the last part of your first comment to me, should Christians be concerned if the US passed laws that would guarantee that Whites would be the majority race in our nation?

  • liz

    First, is the problem of Zionism as only 100 years old-Jews who are not Jews but a synagogue of Satan–Darby was under the Talmud-and Scofield was a liar-bringing Heresy causing blasphemy to Our God- theirs is Lucifer.