King's Evangelical Divinity School

8 February 2012

The Dissonance Between Supersessionism and Israel Redivivus

Stuart Duaermann is currently writing a book chapter on how the WCC and the Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelization relate to and theologise about the Jewish people. He's not finished yet but shares some initial conclusions with us on his blog. He does not believe Israeli policies alone attract their ire. Rather the "dissonance between supersessionism and Israel redivivus"is a key issue here, whereby the state of Israel represents an inconvenient and unacceptable symbol of Jewish strength for supersessionism. He concludes:
From long experience, the Church knows how to deal with Jewish weakness, neediness, and suffering: it does not know how to deal with Jewish strength. The Church has learned to deal with Jewish impotence, but not Jewish virility. Apart from keeping these things in mind, analyses of the root of Christian concern about “the sins of the Jewish State” will always be flawed.


Nev said...

It's difficult to argue against Walter Brueggemann's analysis - once so sympathetic to Israel - that sees current policies as "toxic ideology" and I don't think his comment is necessitated by a specifically Christian viewpoint.

Dissenters said...

I would question this on the basis that many clergy opposed to zionism are liberal or socially minded and have a tendency towards pacifism, perhaps with the Sermon on the Mount ringting in their ears, thus tending to be opposed to state violence where ever it is found. Although admittedly, there is sometimes less vocal criticism of causes that do not fit the 'trendy' mould.

But surely zionism should consider Isaiah 31:1 "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD." Andrew S

Chris said...

As the article clearly points out it is a problem for supersessionists to see the Jewish people able to defend themselves to some degree without having to rely on the nations (Gentiles) and their concept of God.

Nev said...

And clearly, Chris, without the need to rely on God either!

Chris said...

On the gentiles concept of God!

Nev said... you mean to suggest that the modern state of Israel is consciously relying on God in some way?! Explain please.

Chris said...

Obviously some people have a problem with Israel Redivivus because it does not fit neatly into their theology.

Joseph W said...

Excellent, well done Stuart.

Nev said...

Chris, in your view is Israel's current policy of 'land-grabbing' and eviction of the Palestinians 'of God' or 'not of God'?

I must admit the idea that it could be 'of God' had never dawned on me until now but it's not hard to imagine what the nations may have thought about Israel's original Canaan.

Dissenters said...

I see Calvin, that Stuart Dauermann and friends object to this statement of the LCJE Lausanne III.

"The one Church that God has called into being in Christ is drawn from every nation, tribe, people and language, with the result that no single ethnic identity can claim to be ‘God’s chosen people.’ God’s election of Old Testament Israel was for the sake of the eventual creation of this multi-national community of God’s people … We strongly affirm, therefore, that while there are multiple ethnicities within the one church by God’s clear intention, no single ethnic group holds privileged place in God’s economy of salvation or God’s eschatological purpose. Thus, we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to the modern Israeli state, in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged."

I can't help thinking that this repeats and perpetuates the disagreement between Paul and the Jerusalem church in the first century - as we read about it in Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, Acts. The seed of Abraham was to be a blessing to all nations, but my concern is to know why some Messianic Jews resist this unity amongst people of all other nations? How does objecting to "no single ethnic group holds privileged place in God’s economy of salvation..." tie in with Paul's teaching about one new man in Eph. 2, or that Jews may be grafted into the olive tree again, alongside gentiles, and other Jews/Israelites (Romans 11:23-24).

"And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!"

I know some will blame perceived antisemitism, others the perceived involvement of Christians in the holocaust, but what of GOd's desire for peaceful coexistence and forgiveness? I would hope we can resolve the divide between Christians and Messianic Jews. To some extent this seems a separate issue to the State of Israel and Christian Zionism.

Or Ephesians 11-20
" 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."