Tag Archives: Jewish

Giving attention to … the Nation-State of Israel, Presbyterians, & The Voracious News Cycle!

Because truth matters, friends asked, and I lack sense to avoid paths where angels fear to tread (!) ~ I will consider current events pertaining to the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, United States of America) and Israel from the perspective of covenant theology. I will appreciate hearing your wisdom on this subject, and perhaps give our friend Rev. Stephen Atkinson (Christian Witness to Israel) a platform for deeper drilling on this. Pause: C.W.I., for 170 years, has been energetically reaching out to the Jewish people around the world with the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, from a Reformed and covenantal foundation. http://www.cwi.org.uk/http://www.cwina.org/. Our own denomination (RPCNA) on a smaller scale conducted a mission in Philadelphia.

Recent actions of the PCUSA (distancing themselves from the nation-state of Israel, mandating that church funds no longer be invested there, and considering changes to old hymns which refer with affection to Israel and Jerusalem) have nothing to do with covenantal/reformed theology. The PCUSA is a liberal Protestant denomination with all of the infamous regress on matters of twisted sexuality, a full generation ago falling in love with communist versions of social-justice in their missions and politics. Divesting from Israel, for the PCUSA, has everything to do with radical pacifism and getting sucked into the U.N.-driven agenda of shaming the strong, sympathizing with Islamists, and ignoring that there are offenses at every hand. Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church in Lawrence (https://christcovenantchurchrpc.org/) is not part of the PCUSA; we have no formal or informal connection.

That said, we should separate (if only for the sake of strategy) the modern nation-state of Israel (reborn in 1948), the Israel that stands for 13-million-plus Jewish people in many nations, & the way Scripture refers to all of God’s people (Jewish and Gentile) as His Israel. We can love all three versions, specifically, giving what we owe to each one, under God ~ controlled by Spiritual wisdom. We can love Israel without endorsing every action and decision of the modern nation-state (which is officially secular, by the way). We can love our own nation too, and out of that love, rebuke our own leaders for their folly and sin.

There is an old kind of dispensationalism which I hope passes away soon. From my perch as a reformed-covenantal Christian, that dispensationalism held out to ethnic Jews another way of salvation other than through faith in Jesus alone. The impression was given that a Jew ~ faithful to Yahweh, to the law, and to the ceremonies ~ on the basis of the blood of Abraham coursing through his veins ~ is already in the eternal family of God, with an elder-brother status in that Kingdom compared to the many Gentiles who really do need Jesus’ blood. My evangelical friends, this theology is the one that hates Jews, refusing to point them to their and our only hope ~ Jesus-Messiah. The gospel is for the Jew first.

Erwin Lutzer (on his radio program last week) answered well an accusation about Martin Luther, anti-Semitism, and Hitler. A questioner was ready to throw out all of the accomplishments of Luther (and other reformers) due to admittedly hateful things some of them wrote against the Jews. There is a need for great nuance here, but wisdom calls us to mark ye the perfect man, practice bone-spitting, grasp that 99% of the Medieval Church was complicit in this, and understand that Hitler was not a faithful Lutheran, Catholic, or etc. The Gentile-dominant church of most eras must repent before God with respect to our sinful attitudes about and our mistreatment of the Jews. Lutzer gave a written response to a similar question in the past; of course, Erwin is responsible for his own words as I am for mine: http://www.moodymedia.org/ask-pastor-lutzer/archives/question-149/

This covenantalist avoids the term “Replacement Theology” because it suggests that Gentile bullies are shoving Jews out of the House of God. Paul the Jew has much to say in Romans against such pride. But the solution is not to suggest that there are TWO houses of God, separate forever, each with its own gospel terms and conditions. No, Jesus the Jew ~ for Jews and Gentiles ~ has knocked down in His own Person the dividing wall of controversy, making one new people in one enormous house, comprised of families and individuals from all of the ethnes (people-groups). It is no disrespect to ethnic Jews that I highly treasure my own inclusion in the ancient Jewish covenants … by adoption through the perfect life and atoning death and glorious resurrection and present reign of Jesus the Nazarene. My zeal? That our unnatural engrafting stirs holy and fruitful jealousy in the original covenanters. Amen? So may it be.