Replacement Theology at Morling theological college was taught as Super-succession-ism – that Christ at the cross “superseded” the Old Covenant and at that point the Chosen People played no further part in the human processes of Salvation and lost their special place within the economy of God.
Over the past decade and more I have presented a series of seminars on Replacement theology's difficulties in churches, conferences, special meetings, men's breakfasts and dinners, and it has recently come to the fore.
In my presentations I have warned that if Replacement theology holds true, then so too the Muslims will inevitably present a case that they have replaced both the Jews and the Christian church. As sure as night follows day this has now been proclaimed.
Therefore it is once agin time to look at Replacement theology illustrating its difficulties, the challenge and a way forward.
In this third article, I'm challenging the reader to expand their horizons in the light of Biblical thinking on supernatural events. We in our western culture are restricted to what we can understand by the mind and see with the eye. Some Messianic Jewish groups are thinking with a very different mindset, and one particular view is set out in this article for the reader's consideration.
Mt Carmel overlooking Valley of Jezreel
The Australian Missionary News IPTV interviewed Joseph Simon, who is a Jew by birth and a Christian Minister by personal conviction. When this Messianic Jewish presentation was put to him, he not only understood where it was coming from philosophically, but endorsed its theological parameters.
This Messianic Jewish theological position relates to 'Jewish Salvation'. This position comes to the Gospel in as if the 'past and present' tense are one and the same. This is the key to appreciating the philosophical background to this theological interpretation.
The Acts of the Apostles' sermons reveal a past event, in other words, The Cross and the Resurrection, occurred “some time ago”. Yet Jesus’ critical question to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” (in this theological position) is both past tense (the question was asked in the 1st Century), yet 'present tense' as if happening right now, as you read it.
This Messianic position refers to Jewish people (the Covenant people) who have (like Peter) recognised Jesus as Messiah. In other words, as the recognition happens.
Imagine the Jewish person coming to this recognition: “Ah ha – Yes, I see now, Jesus 'is' Messiah, Jesus is the Lamb of God, the fulfillment of prophecy, the Prince of Peace, the Ancient of Days, the fulfillment of the Covenant!”
The ‘past future’ becomes the present – there is no separation between past and present tense in this theology.
It is important at this juncture to jump ahead a little in this theological way of thinking. Jesus' death on the cross, as in John chapter 3 verse 16, died for the whole world, in other words, the Gentiles, but Jesus' death on the cross applies differently for a Covenant person, a Jew.
The Cross of Christ has the Gentiles, as Paul explains in Romans, “grafted into” the Covenant family.
Any Gentile who has come to the foot of the Cross in repentance and have accepted Jesus as Lord (Messiah) is connected into the Covenant community by what occurred at Pentecost, this is the New Covenent, the 'grafted in' ....
This Messianic concept opens a Covenant door for Jewish Salvation, in that at the 'moment in time' a Jew recognises Jesus as Messiah, at that moment in time, for that Jew, Christ's death on the Cross fulfilled the original Covenent. This is 'not' a new covenant for the Jew, rather the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.
Pool of Bethsaida
Answers Paul's writings
This view appears to answers some of Paul’s more difficult writings regarding the Jews. Its dynamic opens a fresh set of possibilities for the Covenant of God’s chosen people 'to be retained', not superseeded (or replaced).
As I understand this particular Messianic view, when Jesus died on the Cross, the Jew who acknowledges Jesus as Messiah, has the Covenant fulfilled (for themselves). Salvation becomes a given by recogising Jesus as Messiah. When Messiah is recognised, the Jewish person is intoxicated with the love of Messiah, this is the longing depths of the Jewish soul. (This has been the consistent experience I have witnessed whenever a Jewish person recognises Jesus as Messiah).
This draws a distinction between the Gentile who falls at the foot of the Cross of Christ in repentance and calls upon the Lord to be saved, and a Jew, who through the Spirit of God has a supernatural recognition that Jesus is Messiah, which is fulfillment of the Old Covenet for that Jew.
In understanding the paramaters, this Messianic view pictures it this way. For the Jew who recognses Jesus as Messiah, Jesus' blood shed on the Cross is the fulfillment on the Old Covenant.
Whereas for the Gentile, Jesus' blood shed is that which brings Salvation and is accepted by faith alone. Under Replacement theology these two ideas are poles apart, but may not be so if the idea of Replacement theogy is rejected.
In this way of thniking, the Day of Pentecost, the receiving of the Holy Ghost, is as valid for the Messianic Jew as it is for the Christian. This is where the “grafted in” link is formalised. Christian thought on Salvation has a focus on a “past tense” Salvation, whereas this Messianic view reinterprets Covenant Salvation with “past-present tense” but applicable only to a Jew of the Old Covenant.
The two views as understood by the western mind with Replacement theology at the forefront seem not to be reconcilable. This is a very difficult theological debate for the church. Yet now, formatiuve voices are coming to the for – such as Orthodox Rabbis affirming Christianity, Roman Catholicism is having a change of heart with this new Pope Francis on Jews and Christianity.
I affirm that within the economy of God there is a place for his Chosen people, whether this particular Messianic position gains credence or not.
As a post script - in my thinking old Simeon holds a clue to this: remember yesterday quoting Simeon in Luke chapter 2 - revealing a link between the Old and New Covenant: Verse 26 – “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Verse 32 – Simeon’s prophecy – “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Simeon was assured by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died.
Old Simeon died before Christ's death at Calvary for the sin of the world, he died before the Resurrection, he died before the Day of Pentecost – yet - in this past-present tense he'd seen the Lord Christ (baby Jesus) and then - “a light to bring revaltion to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” As a Jew of the Old Covenant he recognised the Messiah and clearly saved to Salvation.
Food for thought!
Typical tomb along the road side
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html