Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"You might be a dispensationalist if...."

Shepherd's Conference 2010 featured a talk by Dr. Michael Vlach, titled "You Might Be a Dispensationalist If...."  Fred Butler gave me (and also everyone) a heads-up on it.

I listened, I basically enjoyed. You may recall the review of Vlach's book on dispensationalism here. My thoughts about the talk are similar to the book: it was helpful, but I would have liked an aggressive job of making the case for dispensationalism, rather than simply a "here is what they believe, and if you believe it, you're one of them." But since many still are unclear as to what dispensationalism is, except that, like Christianity in Rome, "everywhere it is spoken against" (Acts 28:22), there doubtless is a need for such a talk.

Vlach (pronounced Vlock) takes 15+ minutes actually to get into the substance of his talk, time I would have preferred to see devoted to more development of the topic. His reading of part of Gentry's mocking list was funnier; I would link, but his site is offline.)

Perhaps the best part is Vlach's conclusion, in which the good doctor gives his own serious...

You might be a dispensationalist if....
  1. ...you believe that the primary meaning of Old Testament passages is found in the Old Testament passages themselves.
  2. ...you believe that national Israel is not a type that finds its significance ended with the Church.
  3. ...you reject replacement theology.
  4. ...you believe that Jews and Gentiles can be unified in salvation and there is a future for the nation Israel.
  5. ...you believe that the nation Israel will be saved and restored with a role of blessing to the nations after the second coming.
  6. ...you believe that believing Gentiles can be the "seed of Abraham" without becoming spiritual Jews or part of  Israel.

94 comments:

Brad Williams said...

Oh man! I hope you don't mind if I give you a breakdown of where I am on these Dan. When I finish, you can tell me if I am a dispensationalist or not!

1. Totally on board.
2. This really a packed statement in my convoluted mind. But I think I'm with you.
3. I reject replacement theology I think! I'd call my idea more of a fulfillment theology.

4. First part, yes! Second part, what does he mean by "nation of Israel" here? Does he mean physical descendants of Jacob or that country over there in the middle east? If the latter, I'm out to lunch on that I guess. If the former, then only God knows who those are anyway since it is in the genes.
5. What does he mean by "nation of Israel" after the second coming? (<--Serious question alert.) I think there will be only one nation after the second coming, and it will be "The World Under King Jesus Nation," with a better name, of course.
6. I don't think I agree with this one. I believe myself to be a "spiritual Jew" in accordance with Romans 2:29. It seems to me that the entire point of Romans 2 here is to prevent the "physical" Jew in boasting in his ancestory b/c a "true Jew" is one who believes in the Messiah.

Does it also make me semi-dispy if I am uncomfortable ending an outline with six points? :)

Rileysowner said...

I can say for sure from that list I am not a dispensationalist, even though I don't fit nicely outside all those things listed.

Sir Aaron said...

I love Gentry's works on so many other subjects but his hermeneutic on eschatology really throws me for a loop.

And Brad, Jews have lived in the land called Israel before and after AD70. In fact, there were a lot of Jews already there when they made Israel a state. Most people think geneaology was completely broken in AD70, but that's ridiculous considering the number of Jews that lived outside Israel since the Babylonian conquest. You should check out Michael Medved's series on Israel (I also recommend his series on Christmas...I mean who knew that it was Luther that was responsible for the name Kris Kringle?).

rwt said...

Brad: Here is a shortened version of Zechariah 14:8-19. It seems pretty explicit to me that there will be nations after the second coming. That includes the nation of Israel, which is where the other nations will come to worship and keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

"On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths...Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing.

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

RT said...

DJP -

I suppose some of his points are vaguely tenable but they seem only marginally relevant to the essentials of Christianity. Certainly I reject the implication that Israel as a government plays any role in my salvation - what an absurd notion! But perhaps I am projecting more into the statements than is really there. Even though I received a smattering of Dispensationalism at Biola, you may recall that I rejected it as utter nonsense then and never bothered to learn much about it. I am sure you will say that the passage of time has left me none the wiser.

Brad Williams said...

RWT,

What do you believe this passage means by "nations"? Does you think it means "ethnic groups"? I cannot imagine that it means the former, and if it means the latter, do you have any idea what "nation" you belong to eschatologically?

Brad

rwt said...

Brad:

I believe it means the same thing that we think of as nations. The US is a nation, a political entity, with borders, people and leadership. The passage specifically mentions Egypt as a nation. I don't believe I need to read anything into the passage other than what it says. If the nation of Egypt refuses to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, God will withhold rain from that country or nation. The same holds true for Ethiopia or Brazil or Canada.

Lynda O said...

Vlach's was a good session, though I think Matt Weymeyer's was the best of the four. I liked that list of 6 points at the end, too. The original list from Gentry was just another attempt at reinforcing stupid and incorrect stereotypes.

To the comment above, "I reject replacement theology I think! I'd call my idea more of a fulfillment theology." -- Vlach himself notes that many who believe replacement theology don't like that term and come up with some other name, such as supersessionism -- a term Vlach also uses. Whatever you wish to call it, though, if it means that national Israel is no longer a distinct entity and is somehow merged with Gentiles in the Church Age, it's still replacement theology / supersessionism, etc.

Item 4 seems pretty straight-forward. "Second part, what does he mean by "nation of Israel" here? Does he mean physical descendants of Jacob or that country over there in the middle east?" -- are you suggesting that the people living there in Israel right now are not the actual physical descendants of Jacob (Jews)? The understanding of "nation of Israel" though, means those physical descendants of Jacob -- some of whom are now living in Israel as well as elsewhere, scattered throughout the world.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I might be a dispensationalist.

But I don't allow my lightly held positions on the doctrine of origins or the doctrine of last things to define me as a Christian. In other words, these are second-order doctrines for me. (Well except for theistic evolution. I vehemently oppose theistic evolution.)

I.e., I wouldn't die on a hill for a particular creationist position or for a particular eschatology.

But I will go to the mat for the Authority of Scripture and CSBI Inerrancy. (Which although not salvific, I see compromise on it as having grave consequences.)

And I'll go partway up the hill to fight for complementarianism. This has more immediate implications for the spiritual health of the church than the doctrines of origins or the doctrines of last things.

Pax.

DJP said...

Lynda O - agreed. Weymeyer's was quite the tour de force.

Brad Williams said...

RWT,

Ok. I can handle that.

Lynda O.,

I think that I could best sum up my view in that no promise to Jacob supercedes or improves the promises made to Abraham. Since I am Abraham's seed by faith, I inherit the promises of God with the sons of Jacob.

As for the current people living in Israel, I saying that many of them simply do not know if they are direct physical descendants of Jacob. They certainly do not know what tribe they are descended from (though some do claim to be descended from "Aaron" or "Levi," they probably are, but I have never heard a Jew claim a specific tribe other than that.) They could be the descendants of gentile converts to the false religion of Judaism in the second century AD. I may be as directly descended from Jacob as some of those living in Israel. How would you know? I mean, look at my profile pic, would you have guessed that one of my ancestors was Pocahontas?

And, btw, I am certainly not trying to be inflammatory, dismissive, or anything but curious as to the theology of the matter. I hope I've hung around long enough for the folks to see that I'm not just trying to stir the pot.

Lynda O said...

"As for the current people living in Israel, I saying that many of them simply do not know if they are direct physical descendants of Jacob. ... They could be the descendants of gentile converts to the false religion of Judaism in the second century AD. I may be as directly descended from Jacob as some of those living in Israel."

I'd say it is fairly well established history that the people who think they are Jews really are -- some were starting to intermarry with Gentiles in the early 20th century, but another famous persecution ended that. Just look at their history, they have been kept apart from the other nations, persecuted and separated, just as God's word has always said back to the time of Baalam.

But as I recently learned from Fred Butler's blog, there actually are reformed people now claiming that the Jews don't even know that they really are Jews. (http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2010/01/reformed-baptist-saying-wacky-things.html) -- to which I can only agree with Fred's statement, "does that mean Hitler and the Nazi's made a blunderous mistake with that Holocaust thing in World War 2? They gassed the wrong people!?"

Brad Williams said...

Lynda O.,

I don't know about any conspiracy theories, but it is also pretty well established that Jews inter-married with gentiles...well, since the beginning of the nation. Timothy was the result of such a union. How many gentiles have to be in the woodshed before you are no longer a "direct" descendant?

Conversely, how many Jewish ancestors does it take to be Jewish? Just for information, here is what it takes to be a Jew to return to Israel under "The Law of Return."

According to the halakhic definition, a person is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, or if he or she converts to Judaism. Orthodox Jews do not recognize conversions performed by Reform or Conservative Judaism. However, the Law provides that any Jew regardless of affiliation may migrate to Israel and claim citizenship.

So, if I converted to Judaism, would you consider me a Jew? The Jews would. And all my descendants would be as well. My point is that neither you, nor I, nor anyone living knows who the direct physical descendants of Jacob are. Only God knows. You may be, for all you know. Does that make a difference?

Brad Williams said...

Lynda O.,

Yikes, ok, I just went over and read that post at Fred's blog, and let me say that this is not where I wanted to go with my observations at all.

My point was simply that, if there is a future revival in store for "The Nation of Israel", it will certainly be far more diverse than those folks who live in "Israel" right now. Because that nation is reckoned Jewish by following Judaism. This does not guarantee their lineage to Jacob at all. My living here in the USA with the last name of "Williams" also does not discount the fact that my ancestors may have been First Century Levites who practiced true religion in the sight of God and followed the Messiah.

That's all I'm saying.

I do not believe that elves made the Masoretic text. That's ridiculous.

It is obviously a dwarven document. Just look at the script.

Lynda O said...

Okay, fair enough. At first it sounded like you were headed that direction (Fred's blog topic).

Based on Ezekiel 47:21-23 I would agree that, at least in the future millennial kingdom, the aliens living among the Israelites will be considered as Israelites and receive an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. The point from Vlach's list is that there is a distinct future for national Israel, as a separate group from Gentiles of the Church age. Though the Jews do not know what tribe they are from, God knows all the details, and in His providence He will likely include some Gentile converts to Judaism, again based on Ezekiel 47:21-23.

Terry Rayburn said...

Dispensationalism would have a lot more usefulness if it emphasized the revolutionary light it has shed on Rom. 6:14, instead of on splitting eschatological hairs.

Too much ink has been spilled debating "locust"="Huey helicopter" (later revised to "Apache helicopter" - better 'stingers' - as the Army phased out the Huey).

Instead Dispensationalists should focus on the uber-radical Grace ushered in by the New Covenant -- promised to Israel, but opened also to the grafted-in Gentiles.

No longer would God's love and favor be based on performance, but on the already-paid-for forgiveness, justification, and new heart of His children.

Covenant Theology gave a welcome nod to the grace of INITIAL salvation, but kept the Church in a quasi-Law-based "you better toe the line AFTER salvation, buddy, or else!" cloud of confusion for 400 years, which was refreshingly blown away by the advent of Dispensationalism.

Although I wouldn't call myself Dispensational, we owe a great debt to those brave souls who dared to break with the Covenant Theologian Patriarchs and declare (with Paul the Apostle) that the Church was no longer under Law but under Grace.

Brad Williams said...

No longer would God's love and favor be based on performance, but on the already-paid-for forgiveness, justification, and new heart of His children.

What? Are you saying that God's love and favor were at one time based on performance and works? Perhaps I have misunderstood.

Fred Butler said...

I think you mean Ezekiel 37, but I know what you mean.

I feel all goose bumpily that people are quoting me like I am some sort of scholar or something. Thanks! =-)

Terry Rayburn said...

Brad wrote,
"What? Are you saying that God's love and favor were at one time based on performance and works?"

Under the Mosaic Covenant God temporally blessed those who obeyed the Law and cursed those who didn't.

Too many OC Scriptures to cite, but take a look at Deut. 28 for blatant examples.

Thank God for the New Covenant.

DJP said...

Brad, very busy day. Now I respond to your first comment. Well, it makes you kinda on-target, and kinda a mess, since you asked.

1-3 cool, unless you're playing games with 3.

4. I think you're dodging here, or trying to (and throughout). You are correct, God knows who the ethnic Jews are. If He has lost track of them or they are untraceable, He's broken His promise, and that's no casual charge.

5. You're mistaken. See Jeremiah 31:31-40, particularly verse 36.

6. Again, you're mistaken. You are not a "spiritual Jew." The NT never uses that phrase of Gentiles. Romans 2:29 never says that non-Israelites are Jews. Saying that outward Jews may not be inward Jews is not the same as saying the reverse.

Paul thinks his ancestry is a big deal; we shouldn't imagine that we know better (cf. Romans 3:1ff; 9:4-5; and Jesus' entire Bible).

You can ask 497 questions about how to identify a Jew, if you like; the only Biblically-faithful answer is, "Evidently God knows, as He has promised to convert them spiritually and restore them nationally."

DJP said...

BTW, when I say "dodging" I don't mean "because you're a bad guy," but "because someone at some point gave you a bum steer."

Brad Williams said...

Terry,

I join you in praising God for the New Covenant. I just think that the promise of the New Covenant's coming was the very hope of OT Israel and not the Mosaic Law. You may think so as well.

Dan,

Thanks for your response.

I do not think that I am playing games with #3. I am admittedly unskilled with the precise terms of "replacement" theology. I simply believe that, from first to last, the hope of the Bible is Jesus Christ, and all who believe in Him will inherit all the promises of God. Every believer is a son of Abraham, which makes us Isaac's true brother, and an uncle to Jacob at least. ;)

4. I am, hopefully in true ignorance, missing what I would be dodging here and throughout. I was trying to say that God has, now is, and will in the future fufill His promises to Abraham/Isaac/Jacob. Even if he is going to save a significantly higher portion of direct descendants to Jacob at the very end, that may look vastly different than we think. God knows who His are, in that, at least, we agree.

5 & 6 - Man, the more I think about these two, the more I think that this is putting the finger right on it.

The New Covenant is for the Jew and the Greek. (Yay! Happy agreement I am sure.) Was Jeremiah 31:31 not for me if I am not at least a "spiritual" Jew? Was the NC for physical Israel only? If not, where in the OT are they included? Going back to the OT, what did it take to be a Jew? I understand a "true" OT Jew to be one who had faith in the coming Messiah, which also means they believed in Yahweh. They kept the Old Covenant because of this faith, and were therefore circumcised. It seems to me that this is the exact same formula in the NT, only the circumcision is of the heart. So, I do not think that I am wrong about Rom. 2:29. I think I'm a spiritual Jew. I do not think that Rom. 2:29 was written to Jews for the sake of Jews, but also for believing Gentiles who have joined themselves to God by faith in Messiah. That doesn't make me a physical Jew, but it certainly does make me stand to inherit all the promises of God in Christ.

As for Romans 3:1 and 9:4-5, well, let me say this for now and I'll think some more.

As for Chapters 2-5, I think the entire point is to demonstrate how the only "advantage" the Jew had were the oracles and the law which served to lead the to Christ. (Which is a mighty advantage indeed!) However, if it didn't lead them to Jesus, then they missed the entire point which the believing Gentiles understood. So then, believing Gentiles will inherit that which unbelieving Jews will not.

You can ask 497 questions about how to identify a Jew, if you like; the only Biblically-faithful answer is, "Evidently God knows, as He has promised to convert them spiritually and restore them nationally."

I agree, mostly, and in a hopefully undodging way. I would only add that not every ethnic descendant of Jacob will be saved, only the elect, and that in the new kingdom, I will go everywhere the ethnic Jew goes because the Messiah is my Jesus too.

Agree? Yes/no?

Fred Butler said...

I simply believe that, from first to last, the hope of the Bible is Jesus Christ, and all who believe in Him will inherit all the promises of God. Every believer is a son of Abraham, which makes us Isaac's true brother, and an uncle to Jacob at least.

Certainly there is a spiritual dimension as Jews and gentiles partake in the New Covenant. But, several OT prophecies, including Jeremiah's very NC prophecy, clearly predicts that Israel as a nation will always continue to exist in their land and never be plucked up from it (Jer. 31:35-40). Christ is our hope for both spiritual redemption and physical restoration. Nothing in those passages suggests we now must spiritualize these physical promises in light of the "Christ event" if we wish to call it that.

LeeC said...

Having not read the book I would like to think that even so you could add "If you believe that God is faithful in His promises to preserve a remnant."

LeeC said...

I meant "watched the video yet".
*sigh*

Brad Williams said...

Fred,

I'm not sure what you mean by spiritualizing. I'm simply being included in the exact same way everyone always has been. Even the gentiles who became "Israel" in the OT come the same way that I have. It is a literal fact that those who joined to the Old Covenant who were Gentiles became Israel by faith, is it not? The Jews today recognize this in the Law of Return, do they not?

DJP said...

Yes, Lee, I think it is that. You and I know that non-dispies don't frame it that way and don't mean it that way, they are (as I've often said) truly some of the finest Christians ever in so many ways.

BUT it does amount to that. God promises Israel will never cease as a nation before Him. When you say that it has in fact ceased, you're saying God was mistaken, whether you mean to be saying that or not.

DJP said...

Brad, let's try putting it more plainly.

You have precisely as much Biblical warrant for calling yourself, in any sense, a "Jew," as you do for calling yourself the fourth person of the Trinity.

Any case that anyone can make, by torturing Scriptures and forcing Part A into Tab 14, I can match for "proving" the deity of believers.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Not to be quarrelsome, my heart is to learn, so please don't take my interjections as such. But let me ask this. You said:

God promises Israel will never cease as a nation before Him. When you say that it has in fact ceased, you're saying God was mistaken, whether you mean to be saying that or not.

This is where I get confused in this. I think it comes down to how I see Israel as a nation in the OT and the future. I know that mainly, the Jews of the OT were descendants of Jacob. However, they were a mixed multitude as well (Ex. 12:38), and we know that those not descended of Jacob could become Israel (Deut. 23:3-8). There were even exceptions to the Moab rule, not the least of which is Ruth. Even believing Rahab was saved from the ban by faith.

My point is that Israel has never been strictly determined by ethnic ancestory. Many who are Israel started out as pagan gentiles, and many who are direct descendants of Jacobs turned reprobate pagan.

I think that this is my biggest hang-up in the discussion. I see the definition of the nation of Israel as a little more fluid than you and probably Fred for these reasons:

1. I think that the promises to Abraham/Isaac/Jacob are basically the same. If not, and I am "only" Abraham's son, then I am Jacob's uncle. So we are still kin.
2. National Israel has never been strictly divided along ethnic lines.
3. For this reason, I believe that it is not unwarranted to literally think all believers are spiritual Israel (some are spiritual and physical, obviously!), and if that is true, then the nation will never, ever cease.


However, I want to note that I really think that we agree on a lot here. I believe in a future for Israel, both physical and spiritual. I believe in a 1,000 year reign. I think the main thing is that I see the distinction between Jew and Gentile as being nearly irrelevant with regards to saving faith.

Oh yes, I also affirm that Paul had many advantages as a Jew. But those advantages rested in the privilege of having the Word of God, so any man in the OT days or our own are blessed like him if we have the Scriptures.

Again, I'm not trying to argue. I am more testing my thoughts with you to measure where I am with regards to dispensational/covenant theology. I am, in the end, a Baptist. That means that I am fifty ways of inconsistent to most folks from the get-go, so I've learned to be good with that. :)

Thanks man.

Brad

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Ooo..we are writing at the same time!!

The only problem is that Gentiles became Israel in the OT by joing the OT community by faith. Didn't they? Could they not identify themselves as Israel?

DJP said...

Your worry shouldn't be (and I'm sure isn't) your relation with Fred or my opinion, but God's.

So when God moved Jeremiah to pen Jeremiah 31:31-40, particularly verse 36, you think Jeremiah wrote it, looked at it, shrugged, and said "Huh. Whatever"?

Do you think his hearers, when he preached it, thought "Right, anyone who believes, whether he has any relations to our nation or not"?

Maybe I'm not saying it loudly enough: you have NO BIBLICAL WARRANT for calling yourself ANY kind of a Jew.

The apostles and their associates penned twenty-seven books, using "Jew" and "Israel" again and again; and NOT ONCE did they say you were one, by being a Christian.

You just can't torture Scripture to say what it could have said, but does not say.

Or, again, I'm going to have to insist that you also say you're the fourth person of the Trinity.

Because the case is every bit as strong. Is Christ a son of God? So are you. Does the Spirit indwell Christ? He indwells you too. Is Christ elect and beloved of God? So are you.

There you go: you're the fourth member of the Trinity!

...every bit as much as you're a Jew, in any sense.

Which is to say, not at all.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Do you think his hearers, when he preached it, thought "Right, anyone who believes, whether he has any relations to our nation or not"?

No, I think his hearers rebelled. And, like yourself, they did not realize that relation to Israel had more to do with faith in Yahweh than with ethnicity.

Maybe I'm not saying it loudly enough: you have NO BIBLICAL WARRANT for calling yourself ANY kind of a Jew.

It must be convenient to ignore the fact that gentiles in the OT did indeed become a part of Israel by faith. Those were the days!

The apostles and their associates penned twenty-seven books, using "Jew" and "Israel" again and again; and NOT ONCE did they say you were one, by being a Christian.

Well no, except for those places where they might have that we already discussed. The plain reading of Romans 2-5 suggests otherwise, as well as all that weirdness in 1 Peter where exclusive OT promises to Israel are given to Gentiles! (1 Pet. 2:9). I guess when Moses preached Exodus 19:5-6 the people must have said, "Right, anyone who believes, whether he has any relations to our nation or not!"

...every bit as much as you're a Jew, in any sense.

Which is to say, not at all.


You don't know this, do you Dan? You must admit I could be a descendant of faithful Jews who got lost in the diaspora and came to Jesus. It's not probable, but it is possible. God only knows! There's still a chance.

Thing is, I can't figure out what difference it will make since God is faithful to all nations in the exact same way He is to Israel (Is. 19:19-25).

For the record, I deny that I am the Fourth Person of the Trinity. Though I will also shamefully admit that I often think far too highly of myself.

However, I share the same humanity as the Son of God, and He will let me sit on His throne one day and rule the nations. In that day, when God has cleansed me of all unrighteouness and sin, Jacob would be proud to call me a son, even if I am his uncle.

Lynda O said...

Brad,

It is true that "with regards to saving faith" there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile -- all are saved in the same way, through faith in Christ. And yes, "not every ethnic descendant of Jacob will be saved, only the elect." As Michael Vlach even said in that message "You might be a dispensational if..." -- dispensationalism has to do with eschatology and ecclesiology, but it does not deal with the soteriology, the matter of salvation in Christ.

But we must remain faithful to what the Bible texts actually say... and that is where this "spiritualizing" comes in and some Gentile Christians take passages such as from the OT prophets and say it's talking about Gentiles and the Church age, when the text cited says no such thing. The same is true with reference to the definition of Jews and Gentiles. If you are really paying attention to what the New Testament writers say, both in Acts and the Epistles, they never mix and match the two groups. Jews and Gentiles are always two distinct groups -- different functions -- and yes, one in salvation in Christ; same as the fact that both males and females are one in Christ, but they still retain different functions and one does not become the other.

In Romans 4, Paul speaks of the faith of Abraham, and explains how Abraham is both the father of the believing circumcised (Jews), and of the believing Gentiles. In Romans 9, Paul narrows the field, the definition of true Israel -- he never widens the definition to include believing Gentiles.

Your item 3 above, "For this reason, I believe that it is not unwarranted to literally think all believers are spiritual Israel (some are spiritual and physical, obviously!), and if that is true, then the nation will never, ever cease." -- is itself unwarranted, because scripture never says that. Only spiritualizing Gentiles, who scan the surface and don't look at the details of what the texts actually say, can come up with that, because the New Testament writers never taught such an idea.

Brad Williams said...

Lynda O.,

Thanks for that! (You guys are killing me today, by the way.)

You said:

Only spiritualizing Gentiles, who scan the surface and don't look at the details of what the texts actually say, can come up with that, because the New Testament writers never taught such an idea.

No comment on Deut. 23:3-8 or the application of Exodus 19:5-6 in 1 Peter 2:9? In defense of my bad hermeneutic, I say that it is the fault of the OT prophets, Peter, and Paul that I am spiritualizing. At least I'm not physicalizing the passages!

DJP said...

Not sure why this is being elusive to you.

If 1 Peter 2:9 means we're Israel, then the passages I alluded to mean we're all God.

Which none of them does.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

You said:

If 1 Peter 2:9 means we're Israel, then the passages I alluded to mean we're all God.

No, this is silly. I meet every meaningful condition to be included in Israel from the OT to the NT. I do not, however, meet the condition for being deity. Do I meet the conditions for sharing manhood with Jesus? Yes, technically, yes. (Obscure Flight of the Concords reference there.)

Peter's exegesis of Exodus 19:5-6 in 1 Peter 2:9 overthrows your "physically Jewish only" understanding of the NC promises of Jeremiah 31. How upset Israel would have been to find out that Moses' sermon in Ex. 19 would be applied to Gentiles by that textual spiritualizer Peter! And I don't think Peter invented his exegesis, I think it is in the OT prophets all along.

I've got enough to think on for at least one week here. So, I'm out until your next eschatological post unless you want to ask me a question for clarification here or something. Thank you for the stimulating conversation. Thank you for helping me along. And please pray for me that God's Holy Spirit will cleanse me of my errors. I mean that sincerely, brother.

Brad

Stefan said...

Dan:

I listened to that lecture a couple of weeks ago...sorry that it didn't occur to me to pass it on to you.

It was a good, very educational lecture, and it was good to hear someone go through the basic principles one by one.

And he didn't mention date-setting once! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Sir Aaron said...

DJP:

The only problem I have, and I say this as a true question, is how do we handle passages such as the Passover is to be celebrated as an everlasting celebration, and similar passages? Are we to say that per Hebrews, Jews are no longer required to celebrate these holidays? (Teh answer for Gentiles is obvious). Because it seems to me th at many non-dispies use this as a argument against everlasting always meaning everlasting.

Fred Butler said...

Peter's exegesis of Exodus 19:5-6 in 1 Peter 2:9 overthrows your "physically Jewish only" understanding of the NC promises of Jeremiah 31. How upset Israel would have been to find out that Moses' sermon in Ex. 19 would be applied to Gentiles by that textual spiritualizer Peter! And I don't think Peter invented his exegesis, I think it is in the OT prophets all along.

But a spiritual application does not cancel or "replace" the original meaning of the words. Peter certainly didn't imply this with his words. There are applications of OT texts to the current spiritual body of Christ, but that doesn't mean the prophecy will not be fulfilled as God originally gave it to the Jews. Why is such a concept automatically excluded among Reformed folk?

Brad Williams said...

Fred,

I am simply defining the borders of Israel more broadly than you are because of the Bible, no less. (I can't speak for other Reformedish folk. Did I mention I'm a Baptist? That doesn't even qualify me to be Reformed in some places.) I also do not think that Peter added anything to Moses' sermon that wasn't already there, spiritually or physically. Why is that so hard to understand?

In other words, there were "Gentile" dudes already at the foot of Sinai who heard this sermon of Moses and thought, "Yes! I'm glad I'm in on this!"

Let me come at it this way. All of the promises of God are bound up in Jesus from Gen. 3:15. Every one of them. Every one to Adam, Eve, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You get Jesus, and you get it all. You sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You inherit the promised. You get to be a Son of God. And, you can live in Jerusalem during the 1,000 years as kinfolk. Weird uncle, maybe. But still kin.

This is weird for me because earlier I felt like I was getting pounded for "spiritualizing" the text. Now then that I have pointed out that Peter did it, suddenly the spiritual application is the only one I'm allowed because, well, if I got the literal one as well, you guys wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

DJP said...

I'm sorry you think you've done some kind of exegesis of 1 Peter 2, Brad. You haven't. You're still missing a painfully obvious point. Peter never once says that the Gentile church is Israel, though he knew every word it would have taken to have said so. He never uses the language of fulfillment, as if the church is some realization of Israel.

To insist otherwise is to stand on air.

It seems to me that you haven't yet gripped the how baseless the assertion is, particularly when mis-based on 1 Peter 2:9.

The faulty reasoning is like this:

A. Exodus 19:6 says Israel would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation if it obeyed

B. 1 Peter 2:9 says the church is a royal priesthood and a holy nation

C. Therefore, the church is Israel

Completely unwarranted.

1. Peter never says "You are Israel."

2. If your reasoning is valid (as I have tried to point out), then so is this:

A. John 1:34 says Jesus is the Son of God

B. Romans 8:14 says we are sons of God

C. Therefore, we are Jesus

I think it far safer to abide in Christ's teaching, and the apostles'. They never blurred Israel and the church. Jesus had the apostles judging the 12 tribes of Israel in the eschaton — still distinct, literal, distinguishable (Matthew 19:28). Paul distinguished Jews, Greeks, and the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32). John sees Jews as still tribally-distinguishable in the future Tribulation period (Revelation 7).

Faith doesn't try to be cleverer than God, but takes His word for it. If Jeremiah 31 doesn't promise Israel's future existence as a nation before Him, He's a welsher. The church is a new and different thing (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:15), unknown in OT days (Ephesians 3:4-6, among others).

Best not to muddle what God deliberately and repeatedly and insistently distinguishes.

Anthony said...

Surely the issues of exegesis in 1 Peter 2 are affected by whether Peter was writing to a mostly Gentile readership or whether the believers he was addressing were mostly Jewish.

If we claim "Israel" always means Israel (as I, like you, do) then more weight should be given to the distinctly Jewish terms in 1 Peter 1:1.

Such an understanding of Peter's readership should have a significant exegetical impact on 1 Peter 2:9 and Peter's use of Exodus.

Brad Williams said...

Dan and All,

I have stuff I want to say, but alas, I fear that I get so excited about this I would drag this out forever and exasperate everyone. Thanks again for the conversation and for being so gracious.

Brad

Brian said...

Bottomline....If All believers are "spiritual Jews" then why does the text itself make the distinction between the 2 (ie Jew/Gentile). Paul certainly did...almost half the new testament right there!! I am clearly not a Dispensationalist. We all ought not go farther in the logic than Scripture has allowed. Unless your have a better connection to God than the Apostle Paul....I'd keep it as is...Gentiles are "not" Spiritual Jews....that's why Paul made the distinction in the first place.

Brian said...

Dan...Love the site and the Blog...but when will you do another Steve Brown work over??? You were right on with your initial take on that Ministry!!

Joey Phillips said...

Man, I saw this thread way too late...I may need to wait till the topic comes up again, but I am totally confused.

Why did Brad not bring up up at the very least Galatians 3:29 and 6:16 and really Galatians in general to refute the argument that Christians are never called spiritual Jews?

Dan, how can you say "Maybe I'm not saying it loudly enough: you have NO BIBLICAL WARRANT for calling yourself ANY kind of a Jew." When Galatians 3:29 says

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

I'm sorry I joined this too late...I would love to get folks thoughts on Galatians.

DJP said...

Simplicity itself, Joey. If Galatians 3:29 means you can call yourself a spiritual Jew, it also means you can call yourself a spiritual woman. Which is to say, it doesn't.

To suggest that Galatians 6:16, in defiance of absolutely every other use of "Israel" in the Bible, refers to Gentile Christians, is a desperation-move. Best to take it as referring to converted Jews, and not do violence to language to prop up a corrupt system.

As to the tenor of Galatians, what does justification by faith alone apart from lawkeeping have to do with God mooching on all His future promises of blessing and perpetuity to Israel?

Brad Williams said...

Joey,

Because Dan is right on 3:29.

But not so much on his exegesis of 6:16.

Dan, I believe your answer is question begging. I have demonstrated that Gentiles could become a part of Israel by faith even in the OT. To understand "The Israel of God" as the gentile/Jewish church does neither violence to the language nor the understanding of the OT promises to Israel, which I believe in. Yay Israel!

DJP said...

History-correction:

You demonstrated a point never in contention, that Gentiles could become proselytes. This moved the ball not at all.

You never have demonstrated that Christians today are in any sense Israel. In fact, it was proven to you that the Church is distinguished from Israel by Scripture.

Joey Phillips said...

"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed"

I'll leave Galatians 6:16 out for now, since I'm sure Dan has studied it more thoroughly than I and will beat me in an argument over who Paul was referring to (though a cursory look through the web reveals my interpretation seems to be in the majority, which doesn't really mean anything at all but at least I feel as though I am not crazy.)

Anyways, I don't really see any way to interpret the above verse as anything other than, if I am a Christian, I am, in some sort of way, one of Abraham's descendants. And since I am not a physical decedent, I must be spiritual decedent. If Paul had stopped at vs 28 I could understand what you are saying Dan, but verse 29 is so explicit.

Also, I don't think that believing that Paul refers to believers as Abraham's seed means that God is not keeping his promises to Israel. Obviously this is a huge topic with many facets, and I acknowledge taking on Dan on this issue is kind of like Mini ME challenging Mike Tyson to a boxing match...

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Simply stating, "No it doesn't!" is not an argument. As in Rom. 2:29 where it is clear that it is the case that all believers, Jew or Gentile, are "spiritual Israel". The ESV Study Bible, which is of course the nearly-infallible source of commentary for the Reformation (:p) gets this, why can't you? It says this on commentary of verses 28-29:

In striking contrast to the Jewish beliefs of his day, Paul claims that true Jewishness and genuine circumcision are not ethnic or physical matters.

Let me ask you this, Dan. What sort of covenantal obligations do you think that God has to Jews today that He does not also have to Gentiles? (I just want to make sure we aren't doing a distinction without a difference here.)

Mike Riccardi said...

I think the point is, Joey, that our participation of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (as his spiritual descendants) does not nullify the Jews' participation of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (as his physical and spiritual descendants).

One illustration that Dan used a while ago that I've since stolen, is the following. Say I promise to take Dan out for ice cream Friday night because he's a cool blogger. Then, when Friday comes, I take both Dan and Brad out for ice cream. I've kept my promise to Dan but have expanded the benefits of my ice-cream-giving grace to Brad as well.

But, if I promise to take Dan out for ice cream Friday, but when Friday comes I only take Brad, I actually have not kept my promise to Dan, and so have unrighteously violated my word. And I don't think a suitable explanation is to look at Dan and say, "You thought I meant you, literally? Tsk. What you really needed to do, Dan, is recognize that I am a very spiritual man. And so when I said, "Dan," I was speaking in a spiritual way and actually meant, "Brad."

So yeah.

And Gal 6:16, like Rom 9:6, is just as easily taken as referring to the elect Jews: the saved remnant of Israel within the physical totality of Israel.

Fred Butler said...

*troll on*

I wrote about Gal. 6:16 HERE

*troll off*

Brad asks,

Let me ask you this, Dan. What sort of covenantal obligations do you think that God has to Jews today that He does not also have to Gentiles?

Jeremiah 31 says that God is obligated to not only bring Israel back into their land, but establish them there where they will never be plucked up again (vs. 40). This isn't some spiritualized understanding of Israel here. This is reiterated in Jeremiah 32:37-44. None of these things have been fulfilled in their totality yet. An Israel united with one heart to fear God has never existed. Nothing tells me in the NT these prophecies must be now re-interpreted to mean "the church" or "spiritual Israel."

Zechariah 14 also adds to this reality for Israel.

If these things do not take place in time, space, and history to a real nation of people in a real land, then these men were false prophets.

Brad Williams said...

Mike,

I would agree with that illustration in probably the exact way that Dan meant it.

Fred,

I'm with Sam, almost. Except that I believe that all Israel will be saved, and I will grant that Paul is speaking strictly of the physical descendants of Jacob there. I am, I think, a historical premil guy. I do, however, agree that any future Israel has is in Christ, and to be in Christ means to be in the Church. Don't you believe that believing Jews are now in the Church? Do you believe that we will all inherit the same things?

Besides all that, it seems that Hebrews 11 is against you at least. Abraham was not just looking for land in Palestine, and neither were the rest (Heb. 11:16). Seems father Abraham was spiritualizing some of them promises!

Joey Phillips said...

Mike,

Thanks for the clarification. I don't think I disagree with much that you said. I was mostly curious as to how Dan maintained the position that there is no biblical warrant for calling myself any kind of Jew, when it seems that being Abraham's seed make me some kind of Jew. You acknowledge that point (that we are spiritual descendants of Abraham) while maintaining that the addition of spiritual descendants doesn't change the promises God already made to Abraham's physical descendants. I agree. And the illustration, though limited, is very helpful.

DJP said...

You want more clarification, Joey?

So, the fact that the apostles never once call the church "Israel" in any sense isn't sufficient? The fact that they in fact repeatedly distinguish between the church and Israel, even up to the last days (Revelation 7), isn't sufficient? The fact that the "families" who will be blessed in Abram are still "families" of the earth (Genesis 12:3), and not said to be transmogrified into Israel, isn't sufficient? The fact that the redeemed in the last days are distinguished from Israel and are still called nations and tribes and languages and people (and not, in any sense, "Israel"; Revelation 14) isn't sufficient? Esau was Abram's seed, too. Was he "Israel"?

Israel is Jacob, not Abraham; then, collectively, his twelve sons.

Never once that I am aware of are Christians told they are blessed in conjunction with Jacob, but with Abraham — in whose seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, not converted into robbers and mutators of Israel's blessings.

But that's just what the Bible actually says. So yeah, beyond sticking with the direct assertions of the text itself, I don't have much, that's true.

Fred Butler said...

Don't you believe that believing Jews are now in the Church?

(Fred) Yes.

Do you believe that we will all inherit the same things?

Yes, We all have eternal life in Christ. That still doesn't nullify the fulfillment of God's land promises to Abraham.

Besides all that, it seems that Hebrews 11 is against you at least. Abraham was not just looking for land in Palestine, and neither were the rest (Heb. 11:16). Seems father Abraham was spiritualizing some of them promises!

There is no spiritualizing going on here. This is one of the misunderstood passages by CT, Reformed folks. Gary Long makes a spiritualized view of Hebrews 11 one of his main presuppositions with interpreting the Kingdom of God. Barry Horner has a good study on this passage in his book "Future Israel."

In a nutshell, Abraham wasn't looking for a "spiritualized" land in an ethereal heaven. Which is really a Platonic notion carried over by Augustine in interpreting Revelation 20. Rather, he was looking for a land from heaven. It is similar to Christ teaching his disciples to pray, Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Mike Riccardi said...

Never once that I am aware of are Christians told they are blessed in conjunction with Jacob, but with Abraham — in whose seed all the families of the earth would be blessed...

Extremely helpful.

Regarding Brad's question about inheriting the same things and Fred's affirmative response, I'm wondering what the roles of the following will be in the millennial kingdom: (1) Believing OT Jews, e.g., Abraham, David, etc.; (2) Believing NT Jews, i.e., the Israel of God; and (3) Believing NT Gentiles.

Brad Williams said...

Fred,

Haven't read Plato or Barry Long, and anything I have of "CT" theology of Hebrews 11 is pretty uch a coincidence. I just read Hebrews 11, actually. It's right there in the verse I quoted. You saying that he was looking for a land from heaven doesn't get you out of the woods anyway. The entire point of the passage is that he wasn't just looking for the property in the Middle East.

A very similar thought process in Gal. 4:21-31. There, believers are sons of "Jerusalem Above." How do you like that? I have Jerusalem for a mother! Who cares if Dan thinks I'm "in no sense" Israel? One who believes in Jesus is the true circumcision, a son of Abraham, an heir to all the promises of God, and the believer has Jerusalem for a mother.

I will say this though, if this is simply an argument of ethnicity, I don't think it an argument worth having. Being Jewish now has the same spiritual advantage as being born Gentile. You may be more advantaged as a Gentile if you are born into a believing home.

Dan,

You said:

Never once that I am aware of are Christians told they are blessed in conjunction with Jacob, but with Abraham--

That's because Abraham was the original recipient of the promise of the land, not Jacob. It would seem that a common sense reading of the OT would demonstrate that those who are Abraham's seed are not lesser than Jacob's, just as Levi's priesthood was lesser than Melchizedek's because Abraham was blessed by him (Heb. 7:9-10). Brother, if you are Abraham's offspring/seed, you get the whole kit and kaboodle (Gen. 12:7).

DJP said...

You're Jesus, too, Brad, don't forget. That is, you are just as much and just as legitimately Jesus as you are Israel, and by the very same sort of decordergesis.

After all, you're elect, just like Jesus; loved with an everlasting love, just like Jesus; sanctified, just like Jesus; a son of God, just like Jesus; destined to reign, just like Jesus; destined for glory; just like Jesus.

I speak like a sloshy spiritualizer.

No one gets away with saying the one, without me reminding of the other.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

Yes, this argument about me being Jesus is as unconvincing as it was the first time. Nice try though! Now then, if you could actually deal with the Bible saying that gentile believers are Abraham's seed, sons of Jerusalem, and heirs to the promises of God...that would be something!

DJP said...

Yep, as effective in the sense that it is still unrefuted. Church = Israel folks do exegesis the same way the cult from which I was saved did it. Make connections the Scriptures don't make, insist that they're valid, ignore the contraries, and call it good.

The difference is that while Scripture actually does call you a son of God, it never does call a Gentile Christian "spiritual Israel."

Therefore, the case for you being Jesus — which this side of Bizarro-world is no case at all — is stronger than the case for a Gentile Christian being "spiritual Israel."

Lynda Ochsner said...

Brad: "The ESV Study Bible, which is of course the nearly-infallible source of commentary for the Reformation (:p) gets this, why can't you? It says this on commentary of verses 28-29:

In striking contrast to the Jewish beliefs of his day, Paul claims that true Jewishness and genuine circumcision are not ethnic or physical matters."

... and "Haven't read Plato or Barry Long, and anything I have of "CT" theology of Hebrews 11 is pretty uch a coincidence. "

Actually you have come across CT theology, since in the first comment you cited the ESV Study Bible.

That's one reason why I don't use the ESV Study Bible. I had heard that it promotes Covenant Theology (though it never actually uses the term, but it does clearly teach from the CT view), written by people who hold to CT.

Just remember -- study notes (and even translation footnotes) are not infallible or inspired scripture.

Drew said...

Dan--If I am a son of Abraham--which you seem to admit--then why don't I get the land promises? They were originally given to Abraham were they not? (Gen. 12:1-3, 15:7).

Is there going to be a separate area in heaven with a "no Gentiles allowed" sign? Just curious.


Also never heard any discussion of Isaiah 19:23-25. That would have been cool.

I am fine with God keeping all his promises to Israel--I believe that. But if I get B-grade promises, then I am going to go get circumcised so I can have both.

Drew said...

@Lynda yeah I hear you, I try not to read anything I disagree with.

Fred Butler said...

Dan--If I am a son of Abraham--which you seem to admit--then why don't I get the land promises? They were originally given to Abraham were they not? (Gen. 12:1-3, 15:7).

Is there going to be a separate area in heaven with a "no Gentiles allowed" sign? Just curious.

Drew, you do get the land promises. The promises to Abraham are not just spiritual, but entail physical reality as well. Real land, real global kingdom.

Drew said...

I get everything that Abraham gets then?

Fred Butler said...

Do you think that there is something you wouldn't get?

Drew said...

I don't get what Jacob gets, because it seems you are saying that the promises to Abe and those to Jake are two different things.

I guess I don't get to hang out in the New Jerusalem?

That is why I am considering getting circumcised.

@Dan--you should read your comments more thoroughly, Brad actually did refute your "he is God arguement."

In fact if you followed your logic, you could say all Jews are God because they get those things too. Silly discussion really.

It also seems like some of his arguments are being ignored and not dealt with--I could list several. Isaiah 19 and several other passages. Plus the issue of Jewish proselytes was never carefully addressed.

But he does seem to lean toward CT, so he must be in a cult or something--best to just ignore him and go with Lynda's strategy of avoiding anything that smells of CT.

Peace in the Middle East, I am out!

Drew said...

Oh I do believe I get all the promises to Abraham, because I am "Abraham's offspring" by faith.

So I get Abraham's promises but not those made to his grand son?

If I am grafted in via Romans 11, why don't the promises made to Israel apply to me as well?

What are we really arguing about?

DJP said...

Drew

@Dan--you should read your comments more thoroughly, Brad actually did refute your "he is God arguement."

Are you new here? Actually, I have to preview every comment before it gets published. That's why you didn't see the link to how the Quran is the truth the other day, for instance.

In your country, are "gainsay" and "refute" synonyms? In that case, yes Brad did refute it. If "refute" means actually to counter my argument, never happened.

In fact if you followed your logic, you could say all Jews are God because they get those things too. Silly discussion really.

If you mean saying "Gentile Christians are spiritual Jews" is silly, I agree. Time is long past that we should have grown past that.

To the rest, it's beginning to look as if you're the one doing the skimming. My logic says that Jews are Jews, the church is the church, and Christ is Christ. I am not the one saying "A pig has four legs, and a lion has four legs, so a pig is a spiritual lion."

It also seems like some of his arguments are being ignored and not dealt with--I could list several. Isaiah 19 and several other passages. Plus the issue of Jewish proselytes was never carefully addressed.

In addition with everything he was tossing here and there, Brad mentions Isaiah 19 - and that's an "argument" that needs to be "carefully addressed"? Wow, in your land, where gainsaying is refuting, does everyone sit around all day, writing?

So you think that, if every syllable of every post is not refuted, then it is established that A = B? Yikes.

But he does seem to lean toward CT, so he must be in a cult or something--best to just ignore him and go with Lynda's strategy of avoiding anything that smells of CT.

Did she say that? Again with the reading-comprehension issues.

But even if Lynda said that, you did not refute every other syllable she wrote in every one of her comments. So I guess that means she is correct?

Fred Butler said...

I don't get what Jacob gets, because it seems you are saying that the promises to Abe and those to Jake are two different things.

How exactly did you arrive at that conclusion? I am not saying that at all. Eternal salvation by faith fulfills one aspect of God's covenant with Abraham. The remainder is yet to be fulfilled with the restoration of Israel. That is what Romans 11 is all about.

Brad Williams said...

In your country, are "gainsay" and "refute" synonyms? In that case, yes Brad did refute it. If "refute" means actually to counter my argument, never happened.

Just. Can't. Stop...myself!

Except for that part where I did. You know, where I don't meet the qualification for deity? I thought that would be obvious.

We have already established that Scripturally Gentiles are the heirs of Abraham, and that they are the sons of Jerusalem, and that there is no distinction in the inheritance of the two. All that is left is physical descent, and short of a DNA test, you can't even be certain that either I or you don't match that.

And there is the "desperation move" of Galatians 6:16 and Romans 2. Which was a very clever gambit indeed, considering the fact that "the Israel of God" was considered a reference to the Church before there were dispensationalists around to argue the point.

DJP said...

Sorry, that is simply not true, and saying it doesn't make it so.

If your sort of exegesis establishes that it's legitimate to call the church, which is not Israel, "Israel," then mine does the same in validating calling you "Jesus." You haven't even touched that. You've just denied it. That's not a reasoned argument.

Once you make one, you will at the same time be disproving the sloppy patchwork that makes non-Israel = Israel.

All that has been established exegetically is that the church is never once called Israel, that Paul expressly distinguishes the two, that Israel is still distinct in the Tribulation, and that nations are still nations in the eschaton.

Early church fathers were a mix as to how they saw Israel's future. I'm so glad I'm not a Roman Catholic, enslaved to repeat the errors of the past.

Or if you think there's nothing left to learn from Scripture, would you please post the date when the vein ran dry? That way, we all know when to stop buying books. (I.e. don't bother with books written after 400? 1400? 1900?)

Semper reformanda - except when it comes to Rome's view of Israel and the church? Odd position for a Baptist.

Fred Butler said...

We have already established that Scripturally Gentiles are the heirs of Abraham, and that they are the sons of Jerusalem, and that there is no distinction in the inheritance of the two. All that is left is physical descent, and short of a DNA test, you can't even be certain that either I or you don't match that.

But textually, the NT writers never make that leap. Israel always means a physical nation of people, and the Church, a spiritual body of Christ comprised of everyone.

Granting your claim, why can't the nation of Israel be restored to their land to fulfill those promises given to them about inheriting the land?

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

I'm afraid to make any more arguments with you. So far, I have been likened to cultish exegesis and a slave to Rome. If I were to make one more solid point, you'd have to resort to calling me a Nazi.

Thomas Schreiner wrote a really good exegetical commentary of Romans. He's a Baptist. He even knows Greek pretty good. He ends his section on Romans 2:25-29 like this:

By saying that Gentiles who have the Spirit are true Jews Paul hopes to provoke Jews to jealousy and bring them within the blessings of the New Covenant.

As for Galatians 6:16, I would turn to my trusty Timothy George, but since he signed the ECT, I'm afraid he might not persuade. Moises Silva's footnote in his "Interpreting Galatians" should suffice:

In spite of many attempts to evade the conclusion that in 6:16 Paul views believers and therefore the church as the new Israel, this seems to be the only interpretation that coheres with the argument of the letter, and most recent commentators have therefore accepted it.

I do not believe that the Church has "replaced" Israel. I would not even say that the Church is the new Israel. I think that's going backwards. I simply believe that they are one people of God, heirs to the same promises. No Christian should ever read a single verse or promise as if it weren't written for them and for their family.

Fred,

I never said Israel would not be restored to the land. Never said that at all. In fact, I affirmed a future for Israel. I also affirm that God will fulfill all His promises to Israel.

I simply do not segregate Jew from Gentile the way you seem to want to. I believe that faith in Christ entitles me and all believers to the promises of God. So, if Israel gets restored to the promised land, we go too. Because we are "Jews in spirit", we can read all the Bible like it was actually written for us. It's as simple as that.

Fred Butler said...

I simply do not segregate Jew from Gentile the way you seem to want to. I believe that faith in Christ entitles me and all believers to the promises of God. So, if Israel gets restored to the promised land, we go too. Because we are "Jews in spirit", we can read all the Bible like it was actually written for us. It's as simple as that.

Why do you think I am radically segregating Jews from gentiles? Of course we go too. Gentiles Christians are just a part of the millennium as Jewish Christians. However, that doesn't mean there is no unique position the nation of Israel holds during the millennium among all the other nations. Just like now there are distinct roles for men and women in the Church, so too will there be distinct roles among Jews and gentiles during the Millennium. All people are just as blessed and experience the presence of Jesus as everyone else.

My concern is two-fold:
First, I see no textual exegetical reason to make the Church to be the "New Israel." As Dan has shown repeatedly, there is no exegetical warrant to do so. The NT writers never called the church the "New Israel" or whatever.

Second, is my countering the notion that a real, physical millennium with a restored, ethnic nation of Jews we call "Israel" is some how "unspiritual." I just don't see why a physical kingdom is a problem for the Abraham covenant. CT folks lose me on that one.

Fred Butler said...

Would encourage Brad and Drew to check out those lectures on Replacement Theology by Vlach for the 2010 Rice Lectures at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

Drew said...

I am done making snarky comments. But thank you for your Dan--those were fun! Who says we evangelicals can't poke fun at each other right!

So here is a serious question. What does Paul mean by the gospel being the power of God unto salvation for the Jew "first" and also to the Greek in Romans 1:16. I am not asking in order to ruffle any more feathers but am genuinely curious as to your answer.

The gospel goes to the Jew first in time? In priority? In importance? Just curious.

Also another serious question I asked out of curiosity is if I am grafted in via Rom. 11--how is life in the Millenial kingdom any different for me. I do believe in a Millenial kingdom btw.

I will mention somethign that bothered me in this discussion then I am done.

Anthony said this:

"Surely the issues of exegesis in 1 Peter 2 are affected by whether Peter was writing to a mostly Gentile readership or whether the believers he was addressing were mostly Jewish."

I don't think it is being written to mostly Jews--the provinces he lists in 1 Peter 1:1 are mostly Gentile, but for the sake of arguement lets say he is writting to mostly Jews. What does that mena? Why didn't anyone jump on this?

Isn't 1 Peter for me as Gentile believer? Am I not a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God's own possession.

It worrys me that no one picked up on the danger of that statement and what it implies about how we read the Bible. I think all of 1 Peter and all of Romans are written for me and read it all as God's truth to me, even if I am "just grafted in."

Just thought I would point that out. I know you guys believe the whole Bible, not meaning to accuse you of that, but in your zeal to prove how wrong we are about the church being spiritual Israel you missed a real opportunity to help one of your dispy brothers.

Brian said...

It's not to say there isn't "mystery" here....no one here could possibly "know" exactly with full clarity the purpose for the Distinctions made in Scripture. I agree there appears verses which give a "one for all, and all for one" idea....but we must all be careful that we don't "err" in extending absolutes conclusions which may, in fact, not be at all. None of us knows what heaven will really be like exactly. Nobody can truly explain why Paul makes the distinctions he does, but in all humility....Paul does, and I will never have to gall to assume I know better. I don't think anyone else knows either. It makes for a good discussion, but then again, we're right back where it started. Hey, We're under Grace....we have the grace to "honestly" misunderstand, if we are truly His. There will always be "tension" in the "working out our understanding of our salvation under grace" and that tension was meant to be there....too much Grace without "any" responsibility creates Universalism and easy believism (fail) ....too much responsibility without "any" Grace creates a legalism and a man made Pharisee (also Fail). I think we don't know this one till we get to heaven....to which...it won't matter, b/c who will have need to feel "right" any more?

Jeff said...

You Might Be a Dispensationalist IF...

1. You think other Christians are anti-Semitic
2. You’ve never read Hebrews
3. You can justify being 2000 years late for an appointment
4. You’re really bad at math
5. You think Kirk Cameron is a fine actor
6. When the going gets rough, you’re nowhere to be found
7. You sleep nude so your post-rapture bed is tidy
8. You were born after 1830
9. You love Christian television
10. You use your newspaper for morning devotions
11. You’d rather have been outside Noah’s ark
12. You don't think satan really noticed the cross
13. You prefer the shadows
14. Always always means always except sometimes
15. You went to Dallas Theological Seminary
16. Bad news excites you
17. You feel Scofields notes were inspired
18. You can’t speak b/c you are in parenthesis
19. You’ll only be a 2nd class citizen of paradise
20. You think THIS means THAT
21. You think NEAR means FAR
22. You thought about naming your kid Darby
23. You decided it’s too late to have kids
24. You’re offended by this list

Fred Butler said...

What does Paul mean by the gospel being the power of God unto salvation for the Jew "first" and also to the Greek in Romans 1:16. ...

The gospel goes to the Jew first in time? In priority? In importance? Just curious.


(fred) Me personally I think it means that Christ's ministry was first to the Jews and now to the gentiles. What's your take and why?

Also another serious question I asked out of curiosity is if I am grafted in via Rom. 11--how is life in the Millenial kingdom any different for me. I do believe in a Millenial kingdom btw.

Do you believe in a "millennial kingdom NOW, as in Augustine's neo-platonic amillennialism, or a future geo-political Kingdom of God coming upon the earth to restore all things? As for your question, I am not entirely sure what you are asking. Life being different for you in what respects? In relation to other nations, or other people, during the coming millennium or currently now as a believer?

Drew said...

I am mostly on board with what you said about Romans 1:16 except I would clarify that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for both Jew and Greek NOW. Paul uses the present active indicative here to say--I am not ashamed of the gospel because right now it is the power of God unto salvation equally for both Jew and Greek.

I am sure you would agree, but I want to share the gospel NOW with any Jew that I meet--I am not waiting for them to make it into the future salvation of all Israel (whatever that entails--those who believe or those who are of Israeli decent but not Abrahamic decent obviously--little joke).

I think Paul's big point is that the gospel is THE answer for both Jew and Greek. I think Paul's big point in Romans 1-3 is that both Jew and Gentile are dead in sin and the remedy for both is the same--the gospel of Christ--salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

If we can agree on that one, I am pretty excited--cause that is awesome!

Paul's ministry may have been mainly to the Gentiles, but that doesn't mean that ours is a Jew-less ministry (I am sure you agree here though).

I believe in a future geo-political kingdom in as much as Isaiah speaks of it that way as does Hebrews and 2 Peter--i.e. "new heavens and new earth."

I am not an amillennialist, I am a historic premil guy. So I believe Christ's kingdom has come and He is reigning presently over a kingdom not of this world. There is, I believe, an "of this world" kingdom that is to come that will be a transformation/renewal of this world.

That said, let me rephrase my question. If I am grafted into Israel--then why all the fuss about whether a Gentile is a "spiritual Jew" or not--seems rather pointless.

The Jews that will not make it into the new heavens and new earth miss it because of unbelief (Rom. 11:20). So we need to do like Jesus and the Apostles and lovingly tell our Jewish friends that they have misinterpreted their Bibles. Like Jesus said to the men on the road to Emmaus--"O you of little faith, slow to believe the law and the prophets." They missed that Christ is messiah--a big miss and something that we need to tell our Jewish friends lest they perish in unbelief.

I am not Jewish (I may have a little, but probably not enough to make the cut--pun intended), but if I am grafted into Israel through Christ then don't I get all the blessings made to Israel?

Mike Riccardi said...

I do believe in a Millenial kingdom btw. ... I believe in a future geo-political kingdom in as much as Isaiah speaks of it that way as does Hebrews and 2 Peter--i.e. "new heavens and new earth".

So, you believe the new heavens and the new earth will last 1,000 years?

I am not an amillennialist, I am a historic premil guy. So I believe Christ's kingdom has come and He is reigning presently over a kingdom not of this world.

There's a problem with that. "Premillennial" means that Christ comes before (pre-) His kingdom comes. If you think His kingdom has come and say that you're premillennial, that means you think Christ has come again.

Drew said...

@Mike

You don't believe that Jesus' kingdom has come in any form?

DJP said...

Drew, it'd be nice if you'd respond to Mike before asking him a question.

Mike Riccardi said...

If we're speaking about the millennial kingdom, no, I don't think those thousand years have begun yet, because Jesus hasn't returned yet.

If you're speaking about His 'kingdom' in any other sense than that, you'll have to define how you're using it before I can give you an accurate answer.

Mike Riccardi said...

I posted at the same time Dan did. He's right, though. That would be nice. ;o)

Drew said...

It would also be nice if you read my comments for more than just my non-dispenstational shortcomings. Or answered the BIG question I asked about being grafted into Israel which no one except Fred even attempted to do, which I still don't get.

I actually answered your question before you asked it. I believe that Christ's kingdom has come in the sense that Christ has come and inaugerated his kingdom through the new covenant by which Christ is living and present in His people.

I believe a real physical kingdom is yet to come--it will begin with the millenium--Rev. 20 doesn't give me any reason to think it won't be 1000 years. After that will come the new heavens and new earth.

I don't have all my theology worked out completely, I have a lot to learn and I am really trying to hear you out and express what I see to be some inconsistencies--that is why I have been on this thread for some time now.

I can be a bit snarky--some of that was a response to Dan's abrasive comments but much of it is just my own pride--so apologies there.

It does worry me that I asked some really important questions about where we have some common ground and no one responded to that at all. Are we not batting for the same team? I am not sure CT really describes me in every way. But I believe in sola fide, sola gratia--all the solas and I am seeking to make disciples of Christ. Hopefully we can rejoice in the gospel together no matter whether I am spiritual Israel or not.

Mike Riccardi said...

Actually, I don't think you answered my questions, before or after I asked them.

I believe that Christ's kingdom has come in the sense that Christ has come and inaugurated his kingdom through the new covenant by which Christ is living and present in His people.

I think I agree with you here, as long as you recognize that in whatever "sense" Christ reigns in His "kingdom" now, that is not the millennial kingdom prophesied to be granted to Israel.

I have no problem with saying that Christ reigns as Lord over all things at this very moment. Of course He does (Ac 10:36). I'll grant that when the King came, the kingdom was "at hand" (Mt 4:17). And I'll even grant that in a similar way, the kingdom of God is represented by the subjects of the kingdom, the Church.

But all of that isn't any different than it was in the OT. Yahweh still reigned as Lord over all. I mean, take a look at Psalms 93-99, or just 103:19 for a summary. The King was, at times, physically present with His people. And at others He was present in the Ark, in the Tabernacle, and in the temple worship, and represented on the earth by His chosen people. Same thing.

The problem comes when we try to say that because Christ is reigning now, that this is the millennial kingdom prophesied to Israel, during which time God promised -- swore by the holiness and faithfulness of His name -- that He would restore them to their land. He swore that promise to the believing remnant of Israel, not to the Church. So unless He delivers in the way that He promised, He goes back on His Word.

If you believe that, I'm not sure where the beef is. Admittedly, though, Dan and Fred are smarter than I am, and especially better studied on the subject than I am. So, I defer to them. :o)

Drew said...

Here is your question:

"So, you believe the new heavens and the new earth will last 1,000 years?"

I said this:

"I believe a real physical kingdom is yet to come--it will begin with the millenium--Rev. 20 doesn't give me any reason to think it won't be 1000 years. After that will come the new heavens and new earth."

I also said I am not an amill guy. So NO the millenial kingdom has not come yet. I also said that Rev. 20 gives me no reason to think it won't be 1000 years--so I believe that too.

How have I not answered your question?

I also believe that God will keep his land promises to Israel--I just think I get in on those promises too by being grafted into Israel and being made a Son of Abraham by faith.

I will ask the question I asked which has never been answered one last time:

If Gentiles are grafted into Israel, what is the difference in terms of promises? Are we not made to receive the same promises as Jews?

I really want to hear yal's answer on this one--that is not a snarky question but one I ask out of real interest.

So it would be nice if someone answered that question--assuming we are done with the "how dispenstational are you" litmus test.

Mike Riccardi said...

I honestly don't know the answer to your question. I wish I did, but I'm sorry I don't.

I'm wondering, though, what you would see as the implications of each view in response to your question. That is, if Gentiles receive different promises (or at least not every single promise made to Israel), so what? And if they receive the same promises, so what?

Ma ~ said...

A Dispy Calvinist! Me too:)

I'll check out the talk for sure.

DJP said...

Then you will probably enjoy this, as well.

(c: