King's Evangelical Divinity School

6 June 2012

Has God Rejected His People? Absolutely Not!

"I ask, then, has God rejected His people? Absolutely not!" (Paul the apostle, writing of ethnic Israel in Romans 11:1 - HSBC). 

Seems pretty unequivocal. And the implications of this short statement are considerable.


James said...

Hi Calvin

I wondered whether you had come across these two articles and, if so, how you would go about responding to them:

The author comes to a different conclusion to the one which you or I would probably come to.

Steve said...

Is this to illustrate a textbook example of taking scripture out of context or something?

Slightly worrying......

Calvin L. Smith said...

Hi James, I'll take a look and get back to you. But glancing through, I'm increasingly of the view that a future salvation of ethnic Israel as (almost begrudgingly) accepted by some is little more than (an albeit important) step away from supersessionism. I am convinced God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people now - as His historic people - and not just eschatologically (which, ironically, is also an issue for some dispensationalists who tend to think of God's dealings with the Jewish people solely in the future).

Stephen, thank you for your comment. I've contextualised this passage ad nauseum on this blog and elsewhere, while the hermeneutical principle of context is one I've been teaching my students for years, so there's really no need for you to be slightly worried.

You're comment begs an inevitable question though. Had I simply cited, "I am the way, truth and life. No man comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6), or maybe John 3:16, would you likewise have expressed slight worry? Or are you simply slightly worried because my above citation doesn't accord with your theology?

Andrew Sibley said...

Calvin - the context is surely one of Paul encouraging Roman gentile Christians to accept Jewish Christians, and for them to share in Paul's work to preach to Jews and bring them into Christ. Paul is expounding from Hosea - Hosea saw apostate adulterous Israel still loved by God, as a husband might still love a divorced unfaithful wife. I have noticed that sometimes this verse is emphasised to the exclusion of other passages of Paul - i.e. in Galatians and Ephesians - surely we do need to hold in balance all of Paul's teachings.


Steve said...

Hi Calvin,

Firstly, apologies. My response was rather curt and on reflection incorrect. The scripture is very plain in that God hasn't forgotten His people. However the understanding of Paul's statement is then fleshed out over the following chapter. Taking the one verse and driving the reader to a particular hermeneutic seems a little strange. Obviously, I'm not a regular reader here, so I wasn't aware of your previous posts on the subject.

In answer to your questions regarding taking other verses on their face value:

In Romans 1:2 Paul then uses his own salvation as evidence that God hasn't forgotten His people. This drives the hermeneutic in a certain direction to suggest that God's work amongst the Jewish people started in the 1st century. The book of Acts documents the success of the Gospel amongst the Jews and given the amount of converts from Judaism, we could say that this was what Paul was indicating.

From the same chapter I could drive a hyper Dispensationist view and say that 'All Israel will be saved' and salvation is automatic, negating Christ's work on the cross (obviously, I know you'll agree that this is false teaching, but it's taught nonetheless as you know).

Alternatively I could refer to Isaiah 59:20 as Paul does and drive another view that only those who Jews who repent will be saved, thus hampering the argument of a need for a future restoration of Israel and a national salvation.

As far as my theology goes, I hold to the view that both Jews and gentiles have been saved throughout the course of history and this continues to this day. I don't have an issue with those who hold to a future redemption for the Jewish people. No right minded Christian should in my opinion and many teachers hold to an international move of God in what is called 'the discipling of the nations'.

However, I do have a concern with some premillenialist thinking. What concerns me is the outworking of the theology of some, like Genesis 12:3 being applied to national Israel today. In my opinion, it's scripture being misused to reinforce superstition and the terrible consequences of that mindset are laid very plain and bare. I don't think it's a stretch to say that many people in their love for Israel combined with a wrong headed thinking actually act as enablers to Israel's current situation. A little bit of 'no' would actually do them some good and force them to rethink their relationships with their neighbours and their neighbours to see their positive action and act accordingly. I hope one day soon that will happen and I think that's a right and Christian attitude.

As far as people holding to other theologies to me, quite frankly, I don't have any issue at all. I not only respect other demoninations I also respect other faiths. My issues lie with the outworking of those faiths. In one of your previous posts, called 'Why bother with Israel', you highlight global human rights violations, many of which are caused by fanatical religious groups and I agree we should repudiate those groups, but also Israel's policies, and also the policies of our own governments where they cause harm.

I hope this clarifies.