In the garden, Jesus prayed that we all might be one, and in Ephesians, Paul wrote that Jesus tore down the middle wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. There are many different notions of unity; some believe we need to put away doctrine and unify with everyone who claims Jesus. Others say unity is found in love, and true brotherly love doesn’t divide over issues. These notions of unity are false; we cannot have biblical unity if what the Bible says about Jesus or the teaching of the Bible is ignored.
Ephesians 4:1-6 LSB “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called,2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,3 being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
This post will not focus on doctrinal differences or even the history of replacement theology. However, I will have resources linked at the end of this post if you want to understand further the effects of replacement theology in and on the Church. I believe every movement and revival in church history has its merits and its misses. I also know that we all see and know in part, and God gives us the light we can handle in different periods. We are connected to the history behind us; we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us; we need to learn from those before us, disregard their error, and hold firmly to the truth they taught.
I have two favorite figures in church history; Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley. Spurgeon comes from a Reformed baptist background, and Wesley is the father of Methodism, popularizing Arminian theology. These two men are opposite in some areas, but both have enriched my Christian life and understanding of Scripture. The reformation restored the truth of salvation by grace through faith; the Puritans and Wesley brought in the understanding of holiness and good works. Throughout history, God has continually restored things to the church’s relationship with Him, and with that, the enemy has kept one main thing in focus, keeping Jews and Christians separated.
Martin Luther played an essential role in church history; he even saw the importance of the salvation of the Jewish people. Still, when they did not accept his preaching and the need to become Christian, Luther became a railing Jew-hater. So much good came from the reformation but so did much evil. The early reformers believed the Church had replaced Israel, but thankfully the Puritans and Spurgeon saw the restoration of Israel and the Jews in Scripture. Adam Clarke, the famed Methodist commentator, held a replacement view.
Jesus came as a Jew, ministered as a Jewish rabbi, and observed the Torah, as did all his disciples and Paul. Jesus did not come to replace Judaism with Christianity or replace Israel with the Church. Instead, Jesus came to reconcile the world to God through His substitutionary atonement, that we might all have the law of God written on our hearts.
When we look at Church history, we must realize the church fathers missed the most crucial aspect of Scripture; God’s covenant with the Jewish people and the promise of a national homeland for His people. True covenant theology doesn’t see us as replacing Israel; a correct understanding of covenant will see Christians as grafted into Israel, as Paul explains in Romans nine through eleven.
I thank God for the reformation, the Methodist movement, and various revivals throughout church history, but it’s time to recognize the missing element of all those moves, a Jewish roots understanding of our New Testament. This isn’t about becoming Jewish but understanding that genuine unity and revival come when Jews receive their Messiah and Christians return to the roots of our faith.
Since Genesis three, God has been about reconciliation, and the devil has been against it just as long. Therefore, it’s time for the Church to turn her attention away from Rome, Wittenburg, England, and your denominational headquarters and turn our attention back to Jerusalem, the city of our King.
Resources for understanding replacement theology: