How Should a Christian View Israel? | Part 3
The nation of Israel has a central role in biblical history, including both the Old and New Testaments. But how should Christians of today view Israel? Ratio Christi's Chapter Director at Ohio State University, Eric Chabot, has researched and written extensively on this topic and provides thoughtful insight within a multi-part blog series. Part I of this series introduces us to some of the historical tensions between Christianity and the Jewish community, a biblical summary of Israel's elected position, and the implications of Christ's work for both the nation of Israel and the Church. Part 2 expands upon these implications, giving focused attention to the concept of structural supersessionism, which has been the pervasive view held by the Chrisitan church of Israel's role in biblical history. Part 3 in this series discusses another model, punitive supersessionism, which holds that Israel is under a punishment due to their rejection of Christ. From Eric:
As I already mentioned, I will expand on R. Kendall’s Soulen’s The God of Israel and Christian Theology which has shown the long history of supersessionism in Church history. Soulen, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC. has written on the standard Christian “canonical narrative”—i.e., our view of the Bible’s overarching narrative framework—in such a way that avoids supersessionism and consequently is more coherent. Soulen identifies three kinds of supersessionism: (1) economic supersessionism, in which Israel’s obsolescence after the coming of the Messiah is a key element of the canonical narrative, (2) punitive supersessionism, in which God abrogates his covenant with Israel as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus, and (3) structural supersessionism, in which Israel’s special identity as God’s people is simply not an essential element of the “foreground” structure of the canonical narrative itself. Soulen sees structural supersessionism as the most problematic form of supersessionism, because it is the most deep-rooted. He identifies structural supersessionism in the “standard model” of the canonical narrative, which has held sway throughout much of the history of the Christian church. This standard model is structured by four main movements: creation, fall, Christ’s incarnation and the church, and the final consummation. In this standard model, God’s dealings with Israel are seen merely as a prefigurement of his dealings with the world through Christ. Thus, the Hebrew Scriptures are only confirmatory; they are not logically necessary for the narrative (see Lionel Windsor’s Reading Ephesians and Colossians after Supersessionism: Christ’s Mission through Israel to the Nations (New Testament after Supersessionism Book 2)
In this post we will discuss punitive supersessionism, in which God abrogates his covenant with Israel as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus.
Punitive supersessonism has mostly resulted from Gentile Christians assuming the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and 135 are God’s permanent rejection of Israel. According to Philip S. Alexander, the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem handed Christians “a propaganda coup” in that it gave them the opportunity to argue that the catastrophe was “a divine judgment on Israel for the rejection of Jesus.” (see Philip S. Alexander, “‘The Parting of the Ways,’” in Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways A.D. 70 to 135, ed. James D. G. Dunn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 20.
Continue reading How Should a Christian View Israel | Part 3
Eric Chabot is the RC Chapter Director at The Ohio State University (RC at OSU) which is one of the largest campuses in the country (60,000 students). He is a graduate of Southern Evangelical Seminary (M.A. in Religious Studies) and has been doing campus ministry on the Ohio State campus since 2004. He has had almost 18 years experience with reaching out to the Jewish community with the Gospel and went to work as a full time missionary in 2005 for CJF Ministries. Eric is also a graduate of Frank Turek’s Instructor’s Academy and an instructor at The Messianic Studies Institute in Columbus, Ohio where he teaches on topics such as Messianic Apologetics, Messianic Prophecy, and the Resurrection of Jesus. Eric has also spoken on college campuses on the existence of God and written several journal articles for The Messianic Literature Outreach. He has also been on several radio broadcasts such as Alex McFarland’s Truth Talk Live and Ryan Dobson’s Higher Ground. Eric lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Lucy and his two children, Elise and Jack. Eric can be reached at email@example.com.
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