| A Christocentric Hermeneutic against the Hebrew Scriptures|
A Christocentric Hermeneutic against the Hebrew Scriptures
An anti-Judaic eschatology is most often grounded on a NT re-interpretation of the OT. By this means the “Christianizing” of the OT results in it s being evacuated of its distinctive Jewish roots and substance. Some definitive examples of this teaching are as follows, along with the subsequent comment. What stands out here is that, apart from some variations in emphasis, the essentially Augustinian transference hermeneutic unfailingly results in the national and territorial nullification of Israel.
N.T. Wright stated,
“He [Jesus] had not come to rehabilitate the symbol of the holy land, but to subsume it within a different fulfillment of the kingdom, which would embrace the whole creation... Jesus spent His whole ministry redefining what the kingdom meant. He refused to give up the symbolic language of the kingdom, but filled it with such new content that, as we have seen, he powerfully subverted Jewish expectations.”
“Through the Messiah and the preaching which heralds him, Israel is transformed from being an ethnic people into a worldwide family.”
“Those who now belonged to Jesus' people were not identical with ethnic Israel, since Israel's history had reached its intended fulfillment; they claimed to be the continuation of Israel in a new situation, able to draw on Israel-images to express their self-identity, able to read Israel's Scriptures (through the lens of Messiah and spirit) and apply them to their own life. They were thrust out by that claim, and that reading, to fulfill Israel's vocation on behalf of the world.”
So historic Israel and the holy land, while having come to a substantial conclusion, yet are “universalized” through “symbolic language”and “images” (as in, “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on”). Here is an attempt to linguistically adorn what in reality is the offensive face of supercessionism. The result is that today the Jews, their nation , and their territory are 'subsumed” within the kingdom of God, that is, they are absorbed into glorious homogeneity. The OT promises concerning a distinctive restoration were a mere shadowy representation that should not be taken too seriously.”
 N.T. Wright, "Jesus and the Victory of God"(London: SPCK:1996) 446,447.
 N.T. Wright, "The Climax of the Covenant" (Edinburgh:T&T Clark, 1991), 240.
 N.T. Wright, "The New Testament and the People of God" (London: SPCK, 1992),457-58.
Overall quotes of single page taken from "Future Israel" – by Bob Horner. Chapter 7 - “Israel and Anti-Judaic Hermeneutics Today,” 186.
"Doc": I don't ascribe or hold to the view expressed by N.T. Wright above. Not that it matters probably to many people but I believe the above writing points out how many times suppercessionist views are couched in very spiritual terms. Yet the result is always the same - Israel is replaced as a nation and territory with a distinct and spiritual future!
| 2015/1/22 14:12||Profile|
| Re: A Christocentric Hermeneutic against the Hebrew Scriptures|
Well, you know...he ain't right. Always a high wire act when you venture on to this. You are either a Hagee/LaHaye or Hanegraaf/Wright.
Give me Jesus/Jesus.
I can read what He said and understand it without the high falutin' highbrow high church telling me what to take seriously from the
What we need is revival. Amen?
| 2015/1/22 15:44||Profile|
| Re: |
Nothing in the word of God is there by accident, so nothing in scripture is unimportant. Paul devoted about 20% of his letter to the Romans to this topic, so it must be somewhat important to discuss.
In Romans 9, we find that God chose Israel that through them should come the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the services, the promises, and that through their flesh should come Jesus Christ...He had to be born to someone right? So does this negate the word of God? Is it only Israel that was chosen? No, but those who are counted as the chosen of God are not those who are of Israel by flesh, but rather those who are Israel by spirit. The true children are those of the promise, not those of the flesh, and the promise was to those of all nations. Yet God chose Israel, a people fitted for His wrath, to bless and to bring forth the promise. This does not make God unrighteous, for He will have mercy on whom He will. Yet the people He chose rejected the Messiah. They stumbled over that scandalon, Christ, and failed to receive the righteousness of God that the Gentiles received with gladness.
In chapter 10, this righteousness by faith is explained. And there is an interesting statement that I think is very key to the discussion. Paul says this: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." It does not matter if you are Jew or Gentile, your mode of salvation is the same. So there is not "special" mode of salvation to the Jew that is apart from that offered to the Gentile. This truth is reiterated in other parts of scripture as well. In the kingdom of God there is nether Jew nor Gentile, etc.
So God was found of them who did not seek Him, while Israel, who sought God through the law, were a disobedient and gainsaying people. This leads to the question in chapter 11, "Hath God cast away his people?" The answer is unequivocal, "God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Let us paraphrase. Paul says, did God cast away Israel? No way! I am an Israelite of Israelite, and I am saved. That should show the proof positive that God did not cast away Israel.
We go on to learn of the natural and wild branches of the olive tree. God did not cut off the natural branches for good, but only for a time that the wild branches could be grafted in. But there is coming a day when the nation of Israel will turn again to Christ. The natural branches will be grafted in again and grow from the root of Christ. We read about this in Zechariah 12. There is coming a day when they will look on Christ whom they have pierced and mourn for Him, knowing that they missed the day of their visitation, and turning again to Christ as Messiah. This does not mean that every individual who is an ethnic Jew will receive some kind of a national salvation, but as was stated in the previous chapter, that the people as a whole will turn to Christ, just as the United States, as a whole, has historically been known as a Christian nation with a goodly segment of the population being born again (although we are leaving that heritage it seems.)
Just as the fall of Israel brought the glory of God to the Gentiles, the return of Israel will have effect in an even greater degree. The blindness of Israel has been for a time until the full number of the Gentiles come in, but there is coming a day when that full number will be realized and God will once again turn His attention to the nation of Israel. For His calling of that nation as His chosen people is without repentance. His calling of them will never go away. This is a very unequivocal statement.
So, while I do not believe in any kind of a "special" form of salvation for Jews that differs from that offered to all men through the sacrifice of Christ, I do believe that Israel retains a special place in the heart of God, as He chose them to occupy that place. They were not chosen for an easy task, for sure. God's calling is not always parties and fun. Israel has been hated of all nations because of God's calling. They were chosen that, through their rejection of Christ, the gospel might be preached to all men. And they are chosen to have a great visitation of the Lord again in which their hearts are turned to the very Christ that they rejected 2000 years ago.
I have heard the teachings of those who think there is a special salvation reserved for ethnic Israel that is somehow different and apart from that which was purchased through Christ. I have heard the teachings of those who believe that the church has replaced Israel where the covenants and promises are concerned. I think they are both in a ditch. We need to limit our dogmatism to that which scripture clearly says, and offer our speculation where we have to infer. The more we infer, the less dogmatic we should be.
| 2015/1/24 9:56||Profile|
| Re: |
I agree with 98% of what you say Travis.
The only thing I have trouble with is that since Jews and Gentiles both have the exact same path to Messiah, how can it be said that Israel had some "special" or "different" promise? It seems that the only promise that matters is "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."
| 2015/1/24 10:41||Profile|
| Re: Reply for twayneb|
Thanks for the reply and the time you took to put it together, It is full of good thought but a bit off topic I think. The point of my post was to point out an example of how a well intentioned Christocentric interpretation, or reinterpretation, of OT passgaes can end up nullifying and bringing to nought the meaning of prophecies pertaining to the yet FUTURE of Israel as a redeemed nation within specific geographic borders after the Day of the Lord. Your post was good and I have read it more than once. I am in agreement with what you spoke of and I'm not advocating any type of special salvation being reserved for Jews that is different from the salvation preached in the gospel. I'm trying to point that, if examined carefully, there is a hermeneutic principle of interpretation that "spiritualizes" prophecies regarding Israel that basically obliterates the real meaning of the prophecies and invaraibly brings the prophetic forecast of a future for Israel to nought. No such thing for Israel exists in this hermeneutic grid and way of "reinterpreting" the OT. I wonder if this has served the church or the Jew well and especially has it served the church well as to its future anticipitation and preparation.
Thanks and thanks again for your post.
| 2015/1/24 16:41||Profile|
| Re: |
Todd: There are those who do believe that Israel will have a different way to salvation than the Gentiles. They are usually a subset of the group that would be polar opposite the Hannegraf group.
docs: Sorry to be a bit off topic. I understood your initial point, which is why I brought up the letter to the Romans. Paul makes statements that would drive the nail in the coffin, I believe, of the idea that God is finished with Israel. There are, I believe, unalterable promises to Israel as a geographical nation that are being, and are yet to be fulfilled.
It is interesting though. The USA is a nation primarily because of geographical boundary and common government. Israel is a nation primarily because they are the descendants of one man, Jacob. If the USA were overtaken and its land divided up among other nations, it would cease to be the USA. When Israel was geographically abolished, she remained a nation all the same. And, true to His promises, God has been gathering this ethnic family of Israel from among the nations and has re-established them geographically in their ancestral boundaries.
I wonder sometimes what is really meant by Paul's statement in Romans when he says, "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
| 2015/1/24 17:25||Profile|
| Another example|
Another example of a Christocentric hermeneutic actually working against and nullifying the Hebrew propehtic scriptures.
Colin Chapman wrote,
“It was not that Jesus was simply “spiritualizing” Old Testament prophecies, and thereby leaving open the possibility that they might one day be interpreted literally. Rather, according to him, the gathering of believers into the kingdom of God was the the true fulfillment of these prophecies. Some Christian writers have pointed out that the prophecies predicted the return of exiles from all countries – from north, south, east and west. Moreover, they say, some of the prophets (notably Zechariah) specifically predicted that exiles of the northern kingdom of Israel would return to the land as well as exiles from the southern kingdom of Judah [Ezek 37:15-23; Zech 8:13]. They go on to ask: has anything happened in history which fits this description – except the recent return of Jews to the land? The question at first seems unanswerable; it sounds a convincing 'knock-down' argument. But if the Christian is to interpret Old Testament prophecy in the light of the teaching of Jesus, the question simply does not arise. Why? Because in the perspective of Jesus, the ingathering of the exiles-from north, south, east and west-takes place when people of all races are gathered into the kingdom of God. This is the true, the real, the intended fulfillment of prophecy....Christians today do not have the liberty to interpret the Old Testament in any way that appeals to them. Everything in the Old Testament has to be read through the eyes of the apostles. It is they who, so to speak, give us the right spectacles for a genuinely Christian reading of the Old Testament. Therefore if Christians today find that certain details in books like Ezekiel appear to fit certain situations in the Middle East today, they should resist the temptation to draw direct connections with these contemporary events. The reason is that since the apostle John has given his interpretation of Ezekiel's visions, this should be seen as the the normative Christian interpretation of these visions, and only one possible interpretation. 
The subjective arbitrariness of the supposed “interpretation” of Zechariah here is simply breathtaking. Though in all this one senses a suppressed unease. The plain teaching of the exilic and postexilic prophets is obliquely confessed as obvious,then put down. After all, if Ezekiel and Zechariah are allowed to stand according to their plain and obvious sense, then a whole eschatological edifice comes tumbling down. As a result, there would be an eschatological future for national Israel. But this wold never do! Consequently, Chapman must turn to the Jewish apostles, such as John, who have renounced that carnal Jewish focus of the past and ascended to more spiritual heights whereby Ezekiel and Zechariah are reinterpreted in more universal, Christocentric terms. Be warned that this is the one and only interpretation; yield to its new norm lest one become beguiled by the deceitful, obvious clarity of literal interpretation. But then we turn to Acts 5:31 where these same Jewish apostles declare concerning Jesus Christ, “God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” This does not sound like supercessionism any more than was the case when Paul declared to the leading Jews in Rome that his captivity was “for the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). These Jewish apostles do not mislead us with ambiguous terminology whereby representation of “Israel” in fact means the homogenous people of God. No, I must assert that these Jewish apostles held to a future hope for national and territorial Israel whereby the nation would eventually be saved by the Messiah and retain its identity among the saved nations (Isa 66:8,12; Acts 3:21-22; Rom 11:26-28).
 C. Chapman, Whose Promised Land? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 150,172.
Overall quotes of single page taken from Future Israel – by Bob Horner. Chapter 7 - “Israel and Anti-Judaic Hermeneutics Today,” 187-188.
It's another classic example to me of, as quoted from the author in my original post, apart from some variations in emphasis, the essentially Augustinian transference hermeneutic unfailingly results in the national and territorial nullification of Israel. The reinterpretive mode is couched in a high level of committment to the highest and loftiest of spiritual heights in Christ yet by doing so the spirit and true meaning of the Hebrew scriptures are denied and nullifed especially when it comes to a future national and territorial significance for Israel. Wouldn't one of the best ways to honor Christ be to not "reinterpret" the prophetic scriptures His Spirit inspired people to pen?
John Calvin on The Book of the Prophet Hosea
10 – Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”
11 – And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
Calvin commentary: For so long a time has passed away since their [the sons of Israel’s] exile, and…since there has been no restoration of this people, it is certain that this prophecy ought not to be restricted to seed according to the flesh. For there was a prescribed time for the Jews, when the Lord purposed to restore them to their country; and, at the end of seventy years, a free return was granted them by Cyrus. Then Hosea spoke not here of the kingdom of Israel, but of the Church, which was to be restored by a return, composed of both Jews and of Gentiles. (END)
So if the Christocentric reinterpretive mode is to be adhered to, the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel didn't really mean the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel but someone else. And again, invariably, any eschatological national and geographic future for Israel is nullifed!
| 2015/1/24 17:32||Profile|
| Re: Any ideas?|
"docs: Sorry to be a bit off topic. I understood your initial point, which is why I brought up the letter to the Romans. Paul makes statements that would drive the nail in the coffin, I believe, of the idea that God is finished with Israel. There are, I believe, unalterable promises to Israel as a geographical nation that are being, and are yet to be fulfilled."
"It is interesting though. The USA is a nation primarily because of geographical boundary and common government. Israel is a nation primarily because they are the descendants of one man, Jacob. If the USA were overtaken and its land divided up among other nations, it would cease to be the USA. When Israel was geographically abolished, she remained a nation all the same. And, true to His promises, God has been gathering this ethnic family of Israel from among the nations and has re-established them geographically in their ancestral boundaries."
"I wonder sometimes what is really meant by Paul's statement in Romans when he says, "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
Yep bro. Mainly, if the Messianic blessings that have come to the world through the calling of Abraham ("in you all families of the earth shall be blessed") and Israel and the gospel have resulted in the blessing and salvation and advancement of mankind to the degree that they have in spite of Israel's unbelief and blindness then just wait until as a nation are brounght from spiritual death and unbelief to life in Christ! When these "dead" are given "life" is when the real blessings will abundantly flow and cover the earth like waters cover the sea. It's not nation worship at all. It's what is prophesied. Peace on earth and bewteen the nations awaits the reinstatement of the natural branches.
"If the USA were overtaken and its land divided up among other nations, it would cease to be the USA. When Israel was geographically abolished, she remained a nation all the same."
I think that view is sorely neglected. When they were dispersed in 70 A.D. they weren't irrevocably divorced by God. They remained a nation under covenant discipline all the while. Like the Lord told King David,
"I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me: when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him"...
Like David like the nation.
Yet for a long while in church history we have had a Augustinian mode of interpretation that says that the Spirit of Christ in them that inspired the prophets (I Peter 1:10-11) really gave the prophecies so they could later be reinterpreted.
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
| 2015/1/24 17:49||Profile|