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Has the Church Replaced Israel? Replacement Theology Debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/2/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,365 times Debate No: 35927
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (49)
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This is a Christian debate. Comment and give your affirmation to debate only if you profess to be a Christian, a believer of Bible. If evangelical, even better.

Topic: Has the Church replaced Israel? Replacement theologians try to hold a number of synonyms to avoid the tag "replacement" by saying they believe in "fulfillment theology" or supersessionism where the Church as absolutely fulfilled and superseded Israel. The implications are same no matter what term you prefer to hold. It implies that God has completely done over with Israel; or that after the advent of New Covenant, Israel is no different than China in God's eye; Israel is NOT distinct and special in God's eyes.

Edit: It was an open challenge which is now finally accepted by Thg who is qualified to debate. He is doing to present his opening case in the first round itself, so that we can have extended interaction. Let us try not to make new arguments in last round. Voters please vote carefully, without nit picking but judging on the overall truth and plausibility of the arguments of each side (besides the voting criteria already given). Try being as much objective you can and not letting your own theological presupposition against the judgment. I hope you all will learn and enjoy the debate.


First, allow me to thank my worthy opponent for introducing this debate challenge and for inviting me to the table. My opponent was fairly strict about picking an opponent who would be able to discuss this topic ably, so I consider it an honor that he has invited me in. I don't agree with my opponent that this has to be a "Christian" debate particularly (even less that it should be someone who is an "evangelical"), as I believe anyone knowledgeable about the topic could make a worthy adversary, but, as I meet those criteria, I hope I can rise to the occasion and provide good food for thought (whether I end up winning or not). I look forward to an engaging discussion!

As our readers might know, my opponent and I already have begun our discussion in the comments section of this debate. Feel free to look those over, as I believe they shed light on how we are approaching this topic. I'll go ahead and open this round with a general statement.

I believe the way my opponent has phrased this debate is somewhat vague, but he and I have agreed that we, indeed, do disagree about this topic, so we have agreed to engage. My premise is as follows: I believe the church has not "replaced" Israel so much as it is a fulfillment of what God called Israel to do in the first place. So, insofar as the church has taken on the mantle of God's mission in the world, I would go along with the phrasing that the church has "replaced" the extent Israel has NOT fulfilled God's mission.

Allow me to explain further.

I believe when God called Abraham (Gen 12) to become a "father of a great nation", so to speak, that God never intended for that to mean a "father of a great nation-state...with a government, military, and so on...". I believe the notion of a nation-state was what many of Abraham's descendants ended up believing in and expecting, but I believe that was a misunderstanding of God's plan. I believe much of the Bible is not only an account of God's plan and dealings with humans, but also is an account of how we have continually misunderstood and abused God's plan, reinterpreting it for our own selfish purposes.

I believe God could have called any group of people, as it were, to be his servants of love in the world. It could have been one person, one group, many groups, or whatever. That a PARTICULAR group came to enter into covenant with God, to me, is incidental. I believe God likely called a lot of folks to enter into covenant with him, but it so happens that Abraham responded positively, and so was "chosen" to rise to the challenge. God likely called several people to pastor the church where I'm presently pastor. I am no more special than anyone else (and I'm not sure I have better skills than anyone else)...but it turns out that this present pastorate has proven to be a good fit, and so I believe he "called" me and my church to partner at least for a time. But there is nothing that says someone else couldn't have fulfilled the spot, or that I couldn't have taken a church elsewhere. These factors are incidental, in other words. Likewise, God and Abraham hooked up, but it could have been anyone who was willing to follow God's plan. And, likewise, the fact that Israel may have misunderstood or abused God's plan is incidental. That is, I believe whoever entered God's plan likely would have failed to live up to it. Israel has no monopoly on falling short. I believe the focus on Israel (AS A NATION) is, to me, not only incidental, but a misguided consequence of how people misunderstood and abused God's plan. This has nothing to do with anti-semitism. The misunderstanding could have involved anyone. Indeed, I believe everyone participates in this misunderstanding to one degree or other, and that is why Paul says in Romans that EVERYONE (not just Jews) has "fallen short of the glory of God." (Rm 3:23)

So God wanted a person or group to rise to the challenge of spreading his love and plan to the rest of the world. The plan was not about how Israel was MORE blessed than anyone else, but how Israel was given the opportunity to be God's servants throughout the whole world (if you read what I call the "fine print" of Gen 12:1-3, it implies strongly that "through Abraham, ALL the people of the world would be blessed"). I suppose we could say that this opportunity was itself a blessing and honor of sorts, but the plan was not focused on Israel (especially as a nation-state), but on a mechanism for spreading God's love to the whole world. This notion is incredible and amazing especially for the time it was conceived (at least 3,000+ years ago).

But, as Israel misunderstood or abused God's plan to mean that they would become a great political nation, all manner of complications have ensued. To make a long story short (too late...?), the Bible is a story of how people continued to mis-apply God's plan to mean "blessings for themselves" more than "blessings for everyone". I believe this basically describes the plight of the human race more poignantly and accurately than pretty much any other explanation out there. And, again, this selfishness applies to everyone, not just the Jews, and not just to folks in the past...but to every human that's ever lived.

So, I'll save more detail and argument (and biblical references, etc.) for subsequent rounds, but my premise is that God never meant for his servants to focus on becoming a nation-state, but to focus on serving others (regardless of where they lived or what nation they happened to be a part of). God wanted his servants to be "servants without borders", as it were. So, to the extent that Israel became an established nation-state (never as great, by the way, as so many of the empires and nations around them) and took focus off this "borderless servanthood" theme, it missed the boat, and our subsequent assumption that Israel (as a nation-state) somehow has a special place in God's plan likewise misses the boat.

While the church has fallen short of God's plan as well, my premise is the church today comes closer to what God wanted all along: a network of people who would place God before nation and selfish gain and spread his love to everyone throughout the entire world. Hence, Peter called the church "a chosen generation", a network of people called to fulfill their end of God's great vision for the world.

I now await my opponent's second round arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks “Thg” for accepting the debate. I hope many Christians will benefit from this debate and find it edifying. Thg and I share some common grounds; we both believe there is only one way of salvation for all mankind that is through faith and acceptance of Jesus; and that we all Jews or Gentiles fall short before God with respect to personal justification. Whole mankind equally needs God to be saved (Rom 3). Furthermore he is an Evangelical, meaning he holds scriptures to be our sole authority and rule of faith, unlike Roman Catholicism or its other off shoot branches like Orthodoxy. So let us begin examining the scriptures. Has the Church replaced Israel? Meaning: Is God done with Israel, and it is no longer God’s nation? The Church superseded Israel or the role and promises given to Israel are transferred to another group--the Church? I say NO.

It has been a popular traditional theology for many that the Church has replaced Israel, and the national promises to Israel are to be applied on the Church! Quite surprisingly my opponent implied that the election of Israel by God was so incidental that he doesn’t even think it was ever a chosen nation in the first place. He believes God never even intended to choose or create a nation distinct among mankind. Was the election of Israel merely a tragic incident of the sinful fallen nature of man, or God seriously created a unique nation for his own glory and purpose for mankind? Have Israel and many Christians badly misunderstood the purpose and identity of Israel for being God’s nation, as he says?

Let us pay attention to God’s words:

God promised Abram to be a “great nation” (Gen 12:2-3) “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God said regarding Abraham's promised descendants - Gen 15:14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Abram became Abraham, meaning father of many nations. The promise of the great nation to Abraham was fulfilled through his grandson Jacob who is called Israel, through him the nation established. Note: Abraham begot many children but Israel is through Jacob’s descendants only. In Genesis 15 God made a national covenant, promising to give his descendants the land of Israel. Only God passed through the sacrificed animals. It was an ancient way of making a covenant between two parties; both walk through the sacrificed animals and take oath that if they break the covenant- may the same happen to them as the killed animals. Only God walked through the pieces, it was a unilateral & unconditional covenant-- the national covenant with boundaries. Sinai covenant was made through Moses with a list of observations and commands, which was the justification or salvation covenant; it was a conditional covenant. Moses’ people were reminded of the Promised Land they were to conquer. Read God’s words to Moses concerning his plans for Israel's Exo 34:10 “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you”.

Apostle Paul wrote in his detailed theological essay, the book of Romans explaining about Israel in Romans 9-11. In chap. 9 he explains God’s sovereign choice; throughout the chapters he speaks about the ethnic original Israel (not any spiritual new Israel). Explaining their inheritance to the: adoption, glory, covenant, law, worship, promises. He expresses grief over the unbelief of majority of his brothers, he says their unbelief does not prove as if God’s words have failed. Not all Israel has fallen in unbelief. There is a “saved Israel” within Israel (Rom 9:5-8) which includes Paul, Peter and all early believers who were Jews. The saved remnant qualifies the promise as contrast to the unsaved which is merely according to flesh. Yet the unsaved Jews too remain under Israel, nevertheless. He explains the purpose of God’s choosing someone.

In chap. 10 he explains how through Christ, now the salvation is available to whole world. In Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile but one God for all. Gentiles can too receive same salvation promises through faith in Jesus, they are saved as Gentiles without becoming Jews (cf Acts 15; 1Cor7:17-24; Rom 15:8-13). Not once in NT do we find Gentile believers called as Jews or Israel. Many times Paul refers them explicitly as "you Gentiles". Believers are one in Christ with respect to salvation; there is no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or master in Christ but we are one; there is no class or caste system. It doesn’t mean we cease to be male and female; Jew and Gentile. Our distinctiveness has not dissolved.

Romans 11 is very important and most relevant chapter for the topic. Paul again explains the saved remnant of Israel that always survives. Verse1 “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means!” Verse 11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means”. NET “Absolutely not!” KJV “God forbid”. Greek Testament reads: me genoito, an expression, used 15 times in the New Testament. It reflects a strong prohibition, a warning. The sense is: “You should never conclude such a thing! God forbid that you should think this! No way!” (Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 1996, p. 482).

Perhaps he had such promises of God in his mind while writing Rom 11:1?

(Isaiah 41:9-17 HCSB)
9 I brought you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners. I said to you: You are My servant; I have chosen you and not rejected you. 10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. 11 Be sure that all who are enraged against you will be ashamed and disgraced; those who contend with you will become as nothing and will perish. 12 You will look for those who contend with you, but you will not find them. Those who war against you will become absolutely nothing. 13 For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you. 14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel: I will help you — this is the LORD’s declaration. Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 See, I will make you into a sharp threshing board, new, with many teeth. You will thresh mountains and pulverize them and make hills into chaff. 16 You will winnow them and a wind will carry them away, a gale will scatter them. But you will rejoice in the LORD; you will boast in the Holy One of Israel. 17 The poor and the needy seek water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Yahweh, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

Paul in v25 he talks about these facts as the mystery, to which he doesn’t want us to be ignorant of; he warns the ignorance of these truths may cause arrogance or conceited. Do not be ignorant of this mystery lest you be conceited in your own eyes. He says in v29 “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” To these promises and election of Israel which we are debating- are irrevocable.

Paul is just reiterating the old promises as they are eternal and unconditional covenant with national Israel. Read what God said in Jeremiah 31:33-35; 33:23-26. These are some undeniable scriptural evidence that Israel stands as God's nation. Church and Israel are separate. Could God be more explicit than this? Let us not harden our hearts from the word of God and try to make him a liar, rather let us say Amen to his solemn promises and plans. If God can break his promises with Israel, how can you be sure he will be faithful with the Church?


Thanks to my opponent, Jacob_A, for a thorough and provocative post. I believe his points were cogent, sincere, unobtrusive, and fair (traits, I have to say, which are not that common in debates on DDO...or anywhere else). Just a housekeeping note: I'm not sure my opponent needs to be so careful about defining himself and me as "evangelical" Christians who hold scripture to be our "sole" authority (and who do so with distinct differences with Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy). While I share many "evangelical" stances, and while I believe the Bible is a unique and majestic record of God's dealings with humankind, I also believe we can learn from our Catholic and Orthodox branches. I also believe we can learn from scholars and commentaries, and also from non-Christians as well...and, yes, even from each other. I also wanted to reiterate that my stance has nothing to do with being anti-semitic. Indeed, (and I realize this is purely anecdotal) I personally know several Jews (some who are not Christians) who agree strongly with many of my following points. So, again, I just wanted to reiterate that I believe we could qualify as worthy adversaries just with some sound scholarship, regardless of which religion, philosophy, or sect we happen to subscribe to, and that interpreting Israel as being or not being the standard version of God's "chosen" has no necessary relevance to being anti-semitic (though I'm sure some views likely have been used incorrectly to bolster anti-semitic stances through the centuries...yet another MIS-application of the Bible!). Now, on with the debate.

While I believe my opponent mis-charactizes my initial premise somewhat, I do believe he hits on the core of our disagreement. The mis-characterization involves the notion of "replacement" and the term "nation". I believe that God, indeed, did call Abraham to enter into convenant (i.e., contract, promise, agreement) in order to partner with God to bring God's plan to the rest of the world (Gen 12:1-3). I believe this original agreement has remained intact through the present. The "old" testament (agreement), as it were, is only "old" because it deals mainly with Abraham and his descendants (the Hebrews, who eventually formed the "nation" of Israel), and the "new" testament is new mainly because it describes the life of Jesus and the birth of the church. But, contrary to popular opinion, I believe the "old" and "new" really are all part of the same big plan: God calls people (anywhere, anytime, of any nation) to be his servants, to be his agents of love and forgiveness throughout the world. Where my opponent hits the nail on the head is that I strongly believe that everyone (early Israel, modern Israel, and pretty much everyone who has ever lived) is prone to misunderstanding and abusing God's plan. No one has a monopoly on God's blessings, and no one has a monopoly on falling short of his blessings. We all are in this together (Rm 3:23).

I would like to use this round to focus on terms such as NATION (and ISRAEL, CITY, JERUSALEM), as metaphor. Many discussions such as this often revert to semantics and "stances"...and this debate is certainly well within danger of needing that sort of clarification. I don't believe people are either literalists or not. Each of us interprets scripture (and life) with both literal and figurative stances. Some of the most ultra-conservative Christians I know still insist that SOME parts of the Bible are figurative (such as some of the imagery in Daniel and Revelation). So, the question is not whether I take the Bible literally or not, but WHICH PARTS I take literally, and which parts I take figuratively.

Contrary to popular opinion (even within the church), the Bible was not written by brain-dead, illiterate, uneducated, inartistic bores who simply "dictated" word for word as they "listened" to God speak. Rather, they were imaginative and masterful in their poetic and literary skills, producing some of the most majestic poetry, metaphor, narrative, and story the world has ever known (hence, the Bible's status as the No 1 best-seller of all time).

Specifically, for the sake of this debate, the word "nation" and similar terms such as "Israel", "city", "Jerusalem", "Zion" are of crucial importance. These terms pack a powerful punch, especially if we acknowledge their metaphorical application.

"Nation" as a concept has changed over time. A cursory reading of even general Wikipedia articles should be enough to show that the concept has several meanings and is certainly not clearly referring only to "nation-states" or modern "nations". The Israel of the OT, in fact, should be understood as being more of a "tribe" or a "people" than a nation or empire. Biblical references to Israel as a "community" or "a people" rival those using "nation" (check any concordance). For purposes of this debate, I will concede that most of the biblical readers through history (and even the biblical writers) assumed the "nation of Israel" meant (or included in its possible meanings) a political entity of sorts, with a king, a standing army, economic interests, and a semblance of territorial borders, and so on. But there also is ample evidence to suggest that many biblical uses of the terms "nation" or "Jerusalem" had a strong metaphorical character. For example, Ex 19:6 says, "You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation". This doesn't sound exactly like the standard politico-military construct ("kingdom of priests"?). Another example: Dt. 4:34 refers to God "tak[ing] for himself one nation out of another nation," a reference to the Exodus out of Egyptian slavery. This includes a foreshadowing of things to come, perhaps, or a description of how Israel was born, but it uses the term "nation" to refer more to "a people" than to a politico-military entity (that is, the "nation" was a people even though, for a time, that "people" had no real estate of their own). This is not unlike the common Christian assertion that "the church" is not a building, but a community of people.

More telling, however, is a NT use of "nation", specifically in 1 Pet 2:9: "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God..." Bible scholar Archibald Hunter writes that Peter, "like the other NT writers...thinks of it [the church] as the true people of God...'Once you were no people' [a harsh description of a people supposed to be God's chosen], 'but now you are God's people' (1 Pet 2:10), and he ascribes to the Christian church the various titles of honor which had once belonged to old Israel ["chosen", "priesthood", "holy nation"]. The old people of God had comprised only Jews; the new one embraces both Jews and Gentiles" (INTERPRETER'S BIBLE, Abingdon, 1957, p 84). It is hard to deny that Peter here uses the term "nation" as a metaphor for the church...not as a description of the politico-military "nation" of Israel.

I won't list all the references here (space!), but terms such as "Israel", "city", "Zion", and "Jerusalem" are used similarly. Ben Ollenberger speaks of Zion as losing much of its direct geographical meaning and taking on symbolic meaning even during OT times as the "dwelling place of God" and a symbol of inviolability and security (OXFORD COMPANION TO THE BIBLE, Oxford, 1993, p 830). Jesus is referred to as "Israel"'s redeemer several times in the NT, but he himself claims his "kingdom is not of this world" (Jn 18:6). Rev 21:1-2 refers to the church as "the holy city, the new Jerusalem". These are but a few of the metaphorical references to terms related to Israel.

I am sure that many biblical references to Israel DID assume a political entity, but, in light of these metaphors, especially as they are used in the NT, I believe we need to be cautious about assuming God intended for his plan to be carried out by a politico-military entity per se.

As I'm out of space, I'll continue to address specific points in R3. Back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2


I focused on proving my case that the Church has not replaced Israel; and that Israel still stands as God’s chosen and special nation; along with the promises, earlier. Now let me start responding to my opponent’s arguments. I did notice where he is going when he claims “God did not choose or intend to choose Israel in the first place.” He certainly doesn’t mean that seriously, as he has to acknowledge God’s election and creation of an awesome nation to reveal his glory and works. Apparently he is making semantic mistakes and equivocation. We need to clarify about terms like “nation”.

I proved earlier with strong evidence that God created and chose this nation of Israel with an unconditional covenant and promises. By “nation” we who believe non-replacement theology or that Israel is separate from Church, still God’s nation, mean the ethnic Israel, in the promised geographical homeland. Israel is not just a political nation like any other state limited in geographical boundary but primarily “a people” the ethnic Israel who are given a “promised land.” Israel exists as people even in scattered state. This does not mean there is no homeland of Israel as a national state “Israel” where they belong.

The question whether the national Israel in their homeland be politico-military is irrelevant. What kind of political structure that nation possess: communism, democracy, monarchy, anarchy, without any military defence is irrelevant. We know one thing clearly, Israel in majority at the day of Paul was ungodly, and today it is ungodly. However one day with the fullness of gentiles, all Israel will be saved, there will be a national turning and acceptance of Gospel by Israel (Rom11:25-26).

Terms "Zion" and "Jerusalem" may have been also used as heaven symbolically as “new Jerusalem.” Does that mean the actual Israel loses its identity? Absolutely not. The Mosaic covenant contained a shadow for the greater promise to come through Jesus, they got accomplished and no longer applied; but that doesn’t mean whole Israel becomes void. We cannot reject the actual promises and explicit words in the OT based on some figurative nuances made about Israel. If the believers in new covenant are called figuratively as chosen people, generation, and race; these figurative language does not contradict and nullify promises to Israel. Paul and Peter called new gentile believers as chosen in the context of personal salvation. Just as not all Israel is saved Israel (Rom 9:6) for there is a remnant in Israel that is saved according to the promise. The promise also received by gentiles now.

Peter called believers a “chosen nation” but read in Acts 3:18-21 he reminds the Jews that ALL things said by the prophets will come to pass including the time of restoration. The apostles remembered the final restoration of the nation of Israel as they asked Jesus. (Acts 1:6-7) they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

The Messiah’s ultimate kingdom is certainly not comparable with the kingship of mortal kings. Hence the Lord’s reply to Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world.” It does not mean his kingdom on earth will not come to pass for he will fulfill all the promises spoken through prophets. Jesus never replied “I am not the king of Israel, I will not restore it, you are misunderstanding my kingship, I am heavenly king.”

Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem, and he is coming again to the same place.(Acts 1:9-12; Zechariah 14:4-5) The King of Israel is not going to come at any other city or nation of the world, but at Jerusalem, Mount of Olives

(Matthew 23:37-39) 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

The promise of salvation is made with Israel (Jer 31:31-33; Rom 10) and extended to all nations. But this salvation promise does not void national election of Israel. (Rom 11:28-29)

Let me remind God’s promises again:

(Psalms 89)
30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules, 31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. 34 I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. 35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 37 Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” — Selah. verse49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 51 with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 52 Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

(Psalms 105)
6 you offspring of Abraham His servant, Jacob’s descendants — His chosen ones. 7 He is the LORD our God; His judgments govern the whole earth. 8 He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations — 9 the covenant He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, 10 and confirmed to Jacob as a decree and to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 11 “I will give the land of Canaan to you as your inherited portion.” 12 When they were few in number, very few indeed, and temporary residents in Canaan, 13 wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, 14 He allowed no one to oppress them; He rebuked kings on their behalf: 15 “Do not touch My anointed ones, or harm My prophets.” ..verse 42 For He remembered His holy promise to Abraham His servant. 43 He brought His people out with rejoicing, His chosen ones with shouts of joy. 44 He gave them the lands of the nations, and they inherited what other peoples had worked for. 45 All this happened so that they might keep His statutes and obey His instructions. Hallelujah!


I am glad that my opponent agrees that our understandings of the meaning of "nation" are crucial to this discussion. My contention, however, is that my opponent does, in fact, mischaracterize my view. Before criticizing my view as one that I "certainly don"t take seriously", my opponent should make sure the view he is criticizing is actually mine. In fact, he mischaracterizes my view, as follows: "God did not choose or intend to choose Israel in the first place."

While I"m sure I often could improve my wording, I believe it should be clear that my opponent misquotes me here. The fact is I never made that statement (which should be clear from the record). Furthermore, I stated clearly that I DO believe God called Israel (as is clear in the following quotes from my earlier posts):

"I believe the church has not replaced Israel so much as it is a fulfillment of what God called Israel to do in the first place."
"I believe when God called Abraham""
"I believe that God, indeed, did call Abraham to enter into covenant""

So, with that clarification, let's agree that the issue is not WHETHER God called Abraham (and, by extension, Israel). This is not in dispute. Where we disagree is about the details. WHY did God call Abraham, and just WHAT did he call him to do, and WHY did he call him to do it? My premise is that God did NOT intend for the covenant to include the usual geo-politico-military nation that most of us might expect. My premise is that God intended for "nation" to be applied in a broader (yes, metaphorical) sense.

Maybe it would help at this point to deal with the issue of why the Bible would use the term "nation" at all. If God wanted it to be understood metaphorically, why not explain it clearly from the get-go or use a different term?

The term "nation" as it was originally used in Hebrew comes from the Ugaritic term for "people" or "clan", and was associated mainly with "kinship as the basis for the group" (so Hamlin in INTERPRETER"S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, Vol 3, Abingdon, 1962, p.515). In the time of Abraham (around 3500 years ago), a concept of a geo-political state, as it were, was not well developed, and people just sort of spread out and began to hang out in groups. The very idea of how different peoples came to take on different cultures and languages and how the history of "nations" progressed was uniquely emphasized in the Hebrew tradition which was to become the basis for the OT. In no other contemporary writings can we find such a preoccupation with the progress of "groups" of people and the role of a particular group (Israel) within that larger historical context (Hamlin, IDB, p 515). Israelite culture gave us nothing if not a sense of teleological linear history (history with long-range purpose).

Just before Abraham, there was the Tower of Babel (Gen 11). This story assumes that all humankind was originally all part of a family of many "groups" (i.e., "nations"), which separated and went their separate ways mainly because they were unfaithful to God. Note that the Hebrew conception was not opposed to various "groupings", as such, but the ideal was that these groups would be able to get along and live at peace with each other (Hamlin, IDB, p 515). It is because of pride that these groups grew to be at odds with each other, but the Hebrew ideal was that all these groups ("nations") should learn to come back together and be at peace. This kind of universal, global aspiration can be found virtually nowhere in contemporary traditions, as so eloquently expressed in Isaiah (remember, "nation" as a term at this time was interchangeable with "people" or "group"):

"And many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.' For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war." (Is 2:3-4)

So the biblical record reflects an unusually noble sentiment, especially for that time period: nations were meant to all live together in peace. Even the Hebrews thought of themselves in not completely homogeneous ways, but accepted that they were a type of merger--that God had called them out from among the nations to be a model of cooperation for others to follow and join rather than a homogeneous nation separated from everyone else (Hamlin, IDB, p 515).

As the concept of a geo-political nation developed, some groups began to grow bigger and stronger, and began to impose their culture on others. People distrusted and hated the "others", as it were. The same pride that caused the division at the Tower of Babel pervaded all peoples (since they were all descended from these common ancestors). So, people ("nations") in general were prone to defining themselves (and their groups) in terms of their own measures of greatness (like how much land they occupied, how much food they had, how much livestock, how many people they "owned", how big their armies were, and so on). Bigger and stronger was better. So it is no surprise that the Hebrew group followed suit. The entire OT, in fact, is the tension between these two great themes: will Israel return to the ideal plan of God, or will they follow after other nations (and their idols)? The grand theme of the Bible has always been, "Will we continue to be selfish and narrow about seeking our own power, or will we see a bigger picture of the whole world living together in peace?" Every person and "nation" throughout history must answer this question.

So, when God promises that Abraham will become the "father of a great nation" and that "through him, all the nations will be blessed", there is no reason to believe that God meant this "nation" to be a geo-politico-military entity. Even if we grant that Abraham and many of his descendants thought more in those terms, I still believe God wanted them to be more imaginative. By analogy, say my little church of 100 members wanted to grow in number to become a huge congregation of, say, 3-4000 members, with a huge and beautiful building to go along with it. Let's say someone stood up and said, "God is speaking to me and promising that we will become a mega-church so we can be a blessing in the world." We all listen and say "Amen" and feel inspired. During the next few years, we all work diligently to bring in new members, and we begin to see some growth. But, just about the time we reach 300 members, some members die off. Others move to another city. Others are called to become missionaries. So we are now back to 100 members. But we keep trusting God's promise, so we keep working. In a few years, we're back to 300 members, but, like last time, we lose several members again. Meanwhile, several of the members who moved away or became missionaries report that they have started churches in other cities. When we actually tally up all the new churches' memberships, we count over 4,000 members. So, one Sunday morning, a member stands up and says, "Hey everyone, I know we're all disappointed that we never became the mega-church we thought God promised, but maybe we were taking it too literally! Just look at what has happened. Our little church has remained small, but our members have gone out and reaped a huge harvest. THIS IS the mega-church God promised! We just needed to open our minds!"

If members bowed their heads in disappointed and insisted on their own narrow view, they'd miss out on all this joy. I believe this analogy helps explain my view of what happened with Israel. Rather than see his plan culminating in the church, many insist the "literal" Israel IS what God promised.

I will try to address more points in the next round (space!). Back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 3


The quote I made to characterize my opponent’s views was really not a literally quote as he takes but just a paraphrase of what he initially stated. So there is no misrepresentation of his views or positions going on here. I am disappointed that he didn’t even touch my arguments to rebut them, in both rounds so far. He didn’t respond to a single passage of Bible I quoted as evidence. Let me reemphasize on the debate topic so that no one gets confused and deviated in the slightest way. “Has the Church replaced Israel?” and so far I have been proving it quite loudly, that it is not true.

He said “God had called them out from among the nations to be a model of cooperation for others to follow and join rather than a homogeneous nation separated from everyone else.” I don’t see any Biblical reference for such an assertion that God created Israel as an ideal example for the rest of nations so that they can learn and imitate Jews?

The scripture is clear:

(Romans 9:4-5)
4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

(Deut. 7:7-8) 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

(2 Chronicles 6:32-33) 32 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, 33 hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

(Zec 2:8) For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye.

Perhaps we can identify the heart of the misconception my opponent from his words like “Rather than see his plan culminating in the church, many insist the "literal" Israel IS what God promised.” The analogy he gave about church members underestimating the promise of growth was good one but having no relation to the identity of Israel in the Bible or replacement theology. Israel being separate with the Church does not mean we believe that God intended to bless the world by promising a beautiful wonderland called “Israel.” God never promised “Israel” but God made promises “to Israel”, his unique nation.

The analogy he gave can rightly illustrate how the Jews underestimated the role of the Messiah to be a political King who will save them from enemy kingdoms by winning wars. God promised Abraham “in you shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal 3:8; Gen 18:18; Gen 22:18; Gen 26:4; Gen 28:14). The blessing were not material for the whole world, but spiritual blessing of salvation that all nations received through the Messiah (Gal 3:16) Paul applied the “offspring” in a singular Messianic dimension. All nations received same promises now becoming spiritual children of Abraham, by faith and all nations are welcome in the same salvation (Rom 10). The Messiah was promised, the Son of David who will forever rule in his kingdom (2 Samuel 7:10-16) These promises ultimately will be fulfilled through the Messiah. This doesn’t mean David was not the King.

When the Messianic prophesy fulfilled “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matt 2:15) it was Messianic allusion which was said to Israel in Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” It had a Messianic allusion and dimension to the verse, but it does not mean that Israel is not God’s son. There will be a “new Jerusalem” in heaven, the glorified state of the Church; that does not mean the primary and original meaning of Jerusalem get dissolved.

When the disciples asked Jesus “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel.”? Jesus did not reply to them “may be you are taking the prophets too literally!” Israel is NOT the Church. Just read carefully Romans 9 to 10.

(Romans 11:25-29)
25 So that you will not be conceited, brothers, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery: A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Liberator will come from Zion; He will turn away godlessness from Jacob. 27 And this will be My covenant with them when I take away their sins. 28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29 since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.

Let me ask my opponent if he can respond to the biblical passages especially and at least Romans 11. Then I will conclude.


I wish I had more space to address my opponent's references, but sometimes a good counter is a different argument.

It would do little good to deal with scriptures he has presented because we have yet to resolve our definition problem. We disagree about the definition of "Israel". I am claiming that "nation" referred more to a "group" of people and had less to do with what has become the ethnocentric, political entity we know as Israel today. I believe this problem compels us toward metaphor, but the irony is that if we research "nation" in the OT, its meaning actually comes closer to the NT view of the church than it does to the common political view.

I'm not sure where my opponent stands here. Sometimes he agrees that the NT application is a metaphor for the church. But he still insists there is a separate Israel. He concedes that Israel doesn't have to be understood as a political entity, but he still believes that Israel also IS a political entity with God's blessing. I am confused. If God called out a people for himself, and if he intended for that group to NOT be an ethnocentric political entity, but a cooperation of people based solely on their relationship to God, then the biblical scenario culminating in the church makes perfect sense. I don't understand what role my opponent believes this "separate" entity is supposed to play.

It does little good for me to counter my opponent's scriptures if we don't agree on the meaning of Israel. I could use the same passages he is using to justify my view, while he'll just continue to insist they apply to the political nation. So, much of my portion of the debate is persuading my opponent that God never intended for his original promise to be applied to a political entity.

Furthermore, my opponent has not acknowledged his mischaracterization of my stance on God's call to Abraham. I stated several times that I DO believe that is what happened, but my opponent just ignores this and claims I do NOT believe it. We are not debating WHETHER God called Israel. Where we disagree is on the WHY. The core of our disagreement lies in one big issue: how do we understand the MEANING of God's plan for Israel? Did he intend for Israel to be an ethnocentric political entity, or did he intend for it to be a borderless cooperation of people that would do his bidding throughout the world? If we can't resolve this issue, no amount of quoting scripture will help.

Israel's formation was not mono-ethnic. There is no such thing as a "pure ethnicity" anywhere in human history. The Israelites were formed from various "nations" or "peoples" (as any peoples were formed), including Arameans (Dt 26:5), Hittites and Amorites (Ez 16:3), Egypt (Gen 41:50), Kenites (Ex 18:11), and Gibeonites (Josh 9:3). "The MIXED MULTITUDE (Ex 12:38) that went up from Egypt with the Hebrews also testifies to the heterogeneous nature of early Israel. To these we should add the Palestinian HABIRU, who joined the Israelites at Shechem (Josh 24), and the CANAANITES (I Sam 7:14)." (Hamlin, IDB, p 515) If more people embraced that God never intended for Israel to be an isolated political entity, but a vanguard for international harmony, we would not only solve the issue of this debate, but would come much closer to solving the problems of the entire human race.

I'd like to walk through the Bible quickly and sketch out a case for why the church is really the "new Israel":

1. Tower of Babel (Gen 1-11): God creates everything and wants humans to live in harmony with him and with each other, but humans are selfish and fall from God's glorious plan. This leads to language division and hatred among all peoples.

2. The Promise (Gen 12:1-3): God reaches out for people to enter into covenant. Abraham heeds the call, and so Israel (as a called gathering of people) is born. But this is not about Israel. A key part of the promise is that this will lead to ALL people being blessed (that all peoples would find their way back to what God originally planned for them: to live in harmony rather than hatred).

3. The Promise Remembered (Ex 2:23-25): Soon after Abraham's descendants begin their journey with God, sin leads to slavery in Egypt. Eventually, they turn back to God to make good on his original promise; God responds by promising to lead them out of Egypt and back to the "promised land" where they again can embark on the original plan (note that they are his people whether they live in the "promised land" or not).

4. Wandering Back (Ex-Dt): Israel wanders the wilderness back to their homeland and becomes a more coherent "group", but this certainly is NOT based on politico-military definitions. Their "separateness" is as a wandering people with no territory, and is based solely on following God's precepts (this is when the 10 commandments and other laws were formed, which still serve as a basis for much of the world's moral understanding).

5. The "Kingdom" (1 Sam 8:4-9,19-20): It should be clear from this passage that, upon their return home, God was NOT pleased with his people's insistence that they appoint a king. He only grants their wish because they are too stubborn to listen to his plea that He would be their king. But, as the geo-politcal idea was now becoming established, the Israelites wanted to be like all the big nations around them (a stark image of human nature in general; not much has changed!).

6. David (1 Sam 18:7): David was successful at forging faith-based heroism. This had lots of wonderful qualities, but also led to more conflating of God's promise with political expectations. It is incredible that God did not permit Israel's grandest hero to build the great symbol of Israel's faith, the temple. Why? Because David was a man of war! God wanted his people to be peacemakers (1 Chron 22:7-10).

7. More Division (much of the OT prophets): Once again, because of the emphasis on geo-political themes, God's own people couldn't even get along with each other (just like at the Tower of Babel!).

8. The Empires: Throughout the entire biblical scenario, the only time in Israel's history it was a legit political entity was during the reigns of David and Solomon. The rest is marked by division and a conquered status by far more powerful empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece). Today's Israel has legit political status, but it is hardly a "great" nation as compared with the world's big players. Not a convincing fulfillment of God's promise.

9: Jesus: It is ironic that often those who oppose replacement theology are quick to point to passages like Is 9 as metaphorically foreshadowing Jesus (prince of peace, mighty counselor), but they insist that similar passages referring to Israel should be applied literally to the political entity. When Jesus arrives, Israel is once again under foreign rule (Roman Empire). Practically every page of the NT abounds with references to the Jews longing for a messiah who would "restore the kingdom". But this is mostly a reflection of the same old misunderstanding. People never learn. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a beautiful carol, but is sadly demoted if we apply it to a worldly kingdom.

10. The Misunderstanding (Lk 24:13-27, 44-47): These verses indicate that most folks misunderstood God's promise. When Jesus is crucified, everyone goes home dejected ("we had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel"). But the risen Christ gets his disciples to finally understand the scriptures: that HE (and his way of living) is the fulfillment of God's plan.

11. The Church: The entire NT is an effort to persuade the Jews (and everyone) that the church is what God had in mind all along: a borderless nation spreading God's love to all. The church is born at Pentecost. People from all over the known world gather and are united in symbolic breaking of the language barrier, and commit to bringing the news of peace to the world, an astounding antithesis to what occurred long ago at the Tower of Babel.

Now back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 4


It is not new on this site that debates get strayed by semantic confusion and equivocation; this was no exception, however I cannot let the debate averted by that tactic. My opponent believes that Church has replaced or superseded Israel. He defends and bases that by simply obfuscating the meaning of “Israel” by semantic play and association fallacy. We agreed earlier that Israel is not necessarily Jewish state, but Jewish “people” as whole, a corporate people are also recognized as Israel. This does not negate national state of Israel, for the promises of restoration of the kingdom stands that Jesus will fulfill in his second coming. Certainly none of his semantic shifts and confusion helps in supporting his position that Church is the new Israel. For neither the “people” not the “state” has been made obsolete through the New Covenant. Throughout the debate he has not even responded to the key arguments I made especially Romans 11, and I am sure he will again avoid touching those evidence. Because supercessionists cannot explain them.

An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. It conflates between two different meaning and connotation. His main argument was the conflation of “holy nation” 1 Pet 2:9 referred to Christians with the “nation” of Israel. To elaborate and refute the argument let me share some interesting examples of equivocation fallacy:
  • A feather is light.
  • What is light cannot be dark.
  • Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.
In this use of equivocation, the word "light" is first used as the opposite of "heavy", but then used as a synonym of "bright."
  • All jackasses have long ears
  • Carl is a jackass
  • Therefore, Carl has long ears.
Here the equivocation is the metaphorical use of "jackass" to imply a stupid or obnoxious person instead of a male donkey.

  • Israel is the “nation” of God
  • Some Christians are referred as holy “nation”;
  • Therefore Christians replaced Israel or that Church is the new Israel?
There is no valid connection in such reasoning but pure fallacy. I have explained earlier that Israel was not just an ethnic group from the linage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but God also included a real estate piece of land for Israel. Still he persists that Israel is ONLY the “people” apart from the homeland who are heterogamous and temporary. Here are some Land promises Gen 13:14-15; Gen 15:18-21;Neh 9:8; Num 34; Levi 25:23 Exod 3:8; Exod 3:17; Eze 47:13-23 along with restoration Zec 12, 14; Eze 36, 37 Isa 49. Scattered Israel does not nullify the national corporate Israel to whom belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.

  • Zion signifies as a name for Israel
  • Heavenly Church is referred to as Zion and New Jerusalem
  • Therefore Israel is the Church
Here the equivocation is the use of metaphorical usage of “Zion” is misapplied and conflated with the original meaning of Israel.

Then he argues that Israel was never a homogenous nation but a mixed race of many ethnicities by giving few examples of how sometimes diverse groups assimilated and intermixed in Israel. But no one argued that Israel is or has to be so “pure race” that not a single outside can intermixed. Notice that those examples were others intermixing into Israel by proselyte converts. They intermixed in Israel becoming parts of Israel. That does not mean Israel lost its racial & corporate identity. Jews are still unique race on the planet by maintaining a distinctive genetic signature relatively closer than others. They were strictly forbidden to intermarry and leave the tribes; they have been maintaining high endogamy (Gen 24:3; Gen 28:1; Gen 28:2 Deut 7:3; Deut 7:4; Josh 23:12; Ezra 9:11; Ezra 9:12) Converts were always welcome though they form a small percentage, they intermixed in the tribes. For scientific DNA evidences see Harry Ostrer’s book “Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People.”

Another striking argument in his case is concerning God’s plan for mankind. We can notice he assumes the plan of God for mankind was to make them get along with each other with harmony without any conflicts. He assumes that God created Israel for being a “vanguard of international harmony” so that the world nations can look upon Israel as an ideal example of harmony and peace and can imitate her. God wants international liberal unity among each other which is to be seen as a contrast with the incident of the Tower of Babel. Bible is a parable of contrast and conflict between “Division Vs Harmony.” On the contrary however Israel is used as God’s means for delivering the salvation through the Messiah through whom the world can be saved (Rom 9:4-5). Israel is meant to be light to the nations to deliver the salvation (John 4:22; Luke 2:32) But there is no single reference for the alleged purpose and plan that my opponent asserts.

I don’t see any economy of salvation and redemption aspects in his supposed plan of God for mankind in the Bible. If he really holds that God wanted with for mankind was to get along in peace with each other and make the world more agreeable and pleasurable eliminating any division. I am curious to know what would he respond to these radical, decisive and divisive words of Jesus:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34-39)

Let me uncover the real plan of God as revealed clearly in the Bible for him, which can be summed up in following segregated purposes in the books:
  • Creation – Genesis 1-2
  • Fall – Genesis 3
  • Covenant (Promises of laws, salvation, national restoration)
  • Redemption – Gospels and Epistles
  • Consummation – Revelation
Inclusion of Gentiles in the salvation promises does not mean exclusion of original Israelites from hope of renewal. Romans 9-11 is discussing unbelieving Israel (Jews) and that hope. Paul weeps for them in Romans 1 and sees them being grafted back in with their national acceptance of the Messiah eventually (Romans 11). Acts 1:5-6; 3:18-22 tell me if I read my OT there is a role for her in the future (as does Romans 9-11). Nothing tells us to reread the Covenant portion of the Bible in a new way.

If God’s main purpose for mankind was to inspire them to live in harmony and smooth relations then why didn’t God send the Messiah directly at the time of Abraham or Moses? Why so much promises and plans of struggle, perseverance, and challenges for Israel even till the end? Why didn’t God explain the whole gist of the 66 books in one single parable by one prophet that he just wants mankind to get along with each other? God's purpose and plan was not that shallow and simple. God has not done anything without a purpose.

If supersessionism is true, then the “Christian” covenants fail before we can even profess faith in them. If God could swear to Israel to love them and take them as his chosen forever, and then break that promise and replace them with a different people or entity, then how could we ever trust the promises he made to “Christians”?

If Jesus the promised Messiah was literally born according to the prophesy (Isa 9) in Israel, he will literally restore his Kingdom in Israel according to prophesy and promises (Isa 11, 49; Acts 1:6-11; 3:18-22; Eze 36 Zec14:4-5). It is strange to see that he added a point namely “The Promises Remembered.” God indeed remembers his promises. Psalm 105:6-11; Psalm 89:30-37; Rom 15:8; Jer 31:33-35; 33:23-26.

(Romans 11:25-29)

I hope readers take these arguments with interest and seriousness; and for Bible students please check these recommended sources for further study.
  • Soulen’s “The God of Israel and Christian Theology”
  • Michal Vlach’s “Has the Church Replaced Israel?”
  • Read a free blog book
  • Listen to the “Israel Debate”


Thanks to my opponent for his final round. Now I will try to:

1. Not make any new arguments.
2. Comment on Rm 9-11.
3. Recap my position.

1. THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING: I contended that the geo-political construct we know as Israel was not what God meant when he made his promise. The political state is more a product of a great misunderstanding (and routine politics) than it is a fulfillment of God's promise. To bolster this argument, I not only used sound biblical scholarship and pertinent biblical references to elucidate the broader meaning of "nation" (as a people called to be God's people to do his bidding throughout the whole world), but I also summarized the biblical witness to this misunderstanding. While I admit that many biblical passages appear to support the political view, I tried to show that these passages could well be understood as a record of the big misunderstanding, or even a product of it. Just because the Bible makes violence sound like it is sanctioned by God (Pss 109, 137) doesn't mean we are to believe that God actually sanctions such things. We need a more discerning view. My contentions are:

1. "Israel" and "nation" are NOT to be understood in ethnocentric, geo-political terms.
2. Many people misunderstand this.
3. The Bible itself (as well as much biblical scholarship) gives ample evidence attesting to both 1 and 2.

Luke refers to Jesus "opening the minds" of the disciples so that they (FINALLY) understood this great mystery only after the resurrection, that their expectation of an "earthly" messiah was misguided (Lk 24), and that He was ushering in the fulfillment of the promise (Lk 4:16-21), and that (so Luke in Acts) the church was, in fact, the fulfillment of the promise. I contend that most of Acts and the NT is a huge attempt to convince everyone of this fact. People are frustrated by the fact that the political Israel appears to fulfill the promise weakly, as it never did become, and still is not, a "great" nation. But, if they would allow that maybe they are misunderstanding the promise, they would finally understand, like Luke, Paul, and the disciples, that God's promise is being fulfilled by the church.

My opponent keeps referring to a "kingdom" that Jesus will bring to Israel. But Jesus' kingdom is already hard at work far beyond Israel's borders. Sometimes we need to stop worrying so much about Jesus' second coming and focus more on his first one. The church today is one of the largest "nations" in the world. It is really the only "nation" of its kind. It has no earthly headquarters. It has no earthly borders. It has no earthly government or rulers. It has spread throughout the world, far more by voluntary conversion than can be claimed for any other creed. Most charities, schools, and hospitals the world over, by a huge majority, were started by the church. The church may have many failings, but it has championed the civil rights of minorities, of women, and of oppressed people everywhere.

To the extent that the church waged actual earthly war (the Crusades) or established itself in an earthly government (the Vatican or anywhere Christianity has been a state religion), or coerced conversion (inquisitions, state decrees), it was falling right back into the same old misunderstanding. Are you kidding? Wage war to spread God's love? This kind of approach is not revolutionary or inspired. This is the way nations have done business since the beginning of history. God wanted to do a new thing (Is 43:19). Borderless love and forgiveness is anything but business as usual. It is revolutionary. THAT is what God wanted all along, and what culminated in the church. "We're Marching To Zion" is a great hymn, but it does not mean we're literally marching to a place in Jerusalem. The church is not perfect, but it IS the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. Far from being despondent that God has broken his promise with Israel, I stand in awe of the wondrous way he has fulfilled his promise.

2. ROMANS 9-11: My opponent claimed I could not explain this passage away. It should come as no surprise that my interpretation of this passage is not the same as my opponent's. In fact, I believe this passage supports my view! The passage doesn't make much sense unless we acknowledge Jews were hanging on to a geo-political vision. The Jews (and Jewish Christians) in Rome were concerned that Jerusalem really was not emerging as the center of religious activity. Luke's ACTS is all about how the church spread out from Jerusalem into all the world, ending up in what was considered the center of their world at the time (Rome). Jewish politics and religion were taking a back seat, and Jerusalem was becoming less significant. Since many of them were still steeped in the "big misunderstanding", they were trying to hang on to the view that their territory was what gave shape to God's promise rather than a grouping of faithful peoples.

When the Christians began to preach that the church was, in fact, the "new" Israel that was spreading out to the whole world, many thought God was breaking his promise. So one of the main goals of the church was to explain that the "true" Israel was not geo-political, but made of ANYONE who would follow Christ. Paul says, "For not all descendants of Israel are truly Israel, nor, because they are Abraham's offspring, are they all his true is not those born in the course of nature [i.e., bloodline, and, we might add, political ties] who are children of God..." (Rm 9:7-8) He assures that this is not a transfer or is NOT that the Gentiles have been given the promise and the Jews are being is that the same promise made to the Jews is now being extended to everyone. All have fallen short, and all are offered salvation through Christ, and anyone is welcome. It is difficult for me to understand this passage unless we assume Paul is trying to convince the Jews that the promise has NOT been broken, but is being fulfilled in the church. Jesus himself taught that the promise was not an ethnic inheritance: " not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for...from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." (Mt 3:9)

I agree with my opponent that Rm 11:1 ("Has God rejected his people?") reflects a real concern. But Paul is trying to show that God's offer of his promise to the Gentiles is NOT a rejection, but calls for a new understanding. "Everyone that calls upon the Lord will be saved." (Rm 10:13).

3. GOD'S PURPOSE: My opponent agreed that God wants to save everyone, but that the "world peace" theme is not relevant. My reading of scripture is that personal salvation and global peace go hand in hand. The vision of harmony is the direct antithesis to the division emerging from the Tower of Babel (Gen 11). Isaiah's vision for harmony (Is 2:3-4), his "prince of peace" (Is 9), his "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Is 65:25), all are majestic tributes to God's purpose for the world. The biblical message is that we strive for peace in all the wrong ways. The only hope for the world is Christ, because his gift of love and forgiveness, not armies, laws, politics, money, is the ONLY way to achieve real peace. Jacob_A, that'll preach! My opponent then quotes the verse about Jesus saying he came "not to bring peace, but a sword" in an attempt to prove that global peace is NOT a divine aim! To paraphrase from an earlier round (#JMcEnroe), surely he can't be serious! The irony is that this verse refers to how conflict often results when anyone follows Christ and joins the new Israel, the church.

I'd love to keep going, but there simply is not enough space, so I rest my case. Again, I'd love to keep the conversation going (with Jacob_A or any others), but, for now, I'll close with the hope that we all learn from this debating experience. Thanks again to Jacob_A for an enjoyable challenge!
Debate Round No. 5
49 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: Just wondering if you'd like to continue our discussion. Either you've been busy (which is have I!)...or you are no longer interested in continuing our discussion. I'm still interested in discussing this topic...with you or with anyone else.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: By the way, I have read many of your links and sources and their viewpoint for many years, and, yes, I do know the difference. I don't agree with many of them. Your contention that if I would just read them, THEN I will know the mistaken. Once again, I am aware of their position, as I am of yours. I simply disagree. It doesn't do us good to condemn each other's commentaries, then send a list of our commentaries to each other. I'd much rather hear directly from you why you believe they way you do. We'll figure this out, Jacob_A. We've just got to stick with it. Be patient with me, brother, and I'll try to extend you the same courtesy.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: What I'm hoping is that we can stop calling each other poor debaters or impuning our seminaries and commentaries. Name-calling doesn't get us anywhere. Let's just discuss the issue.

Back to Romans, I'm still confused. I still hear you reflecting my view, which is that "real" Jews are not dependent on bloodline or political links, but are true servants of God. Then you go back and insist that "real" Jews ARE connected to their bloodline and political links. So I still don't understand. What is the role of political Israel, in your opinion? What is it that God intends to do in the world? Why would God care what bloodline or nation you are from? If Paul said that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, what did he mean? That's a beautiful and powerful notion, especially for that time period, and I believe it reflects the grand theme of Bible with amazing majesty. Can you explain the role of an ethnic, political Israel in this grand scheme? I'd be very interested in hearing your views.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: To continue:

I'm trying to say that you didn't address many of my passages any more directly than I addressed yours. You either ignored them or just said I was wrong for not addressing yours. That's not exegisis. Why am I the only one who is wrong for not addressing your passages...if you also ignored my passages? Just saying somebody's interpretation is wrong doesn't make you right. I at least tried to show a holistic biblical theme and supported it with scholarship to show that God has never been...and never will be...concerned with a geo-political nation (Israel or any other nation). He is concerned about people serving him, regardless of where they live or who their bloodline ancestors are. All you said was, "I agree that God called a people, but there still is the ethnic Israel that is his special nation." I just don't get exactly what role you believe these "ethnic" Jews are supposed to play. You agree that other ethnicities have been grafted into the vine here and there, and you agree that some "real" Jews are NOT real Jews because they were unfaithful, but then you say the "real" Israel is still part of God's "promise". You agree God wants a faithful people, but you insist that bloodline still is an important factor. I'm telling you I don't get your point, Jacob_A. That's why I keep saying that citing hundreds of verses won't get us very far...if we can't come to some kind of understanding about God's purpose for his people. You say my view is vague, but I'm saying your view sounds vague and confusing to me. I believe my view isn't vague, but reflects nearly every page of the Bible. Your view doesn't explain the significance of the Tower of Babel (another passage you really didn't explain), Pentecost, or why much of the NT assumes that the church IS the new Israel.

Thanks for recommending commentaries. I could recommend a bunch back to you, too. But, you guessed it, I know you'll just call them all wrong, so that is fruitless.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: Once again, you attack a straw man. You don't know me nor the seminary I attended. For all you know, I disagreed with much of what my seminary taught me. You seem unable to distinguish between two things: your opinion and proving your opinion. You assume that because you disagree with something, that makes you right. You assume that because you disagree with me, I haven't proven my position or responded correctly. But another possibility is: I did respond but you didn't agree with me. Telling me over and over I am wrong doesn't prove you are right. I need some proof as well.

The fact is, you listed so many references, it would have taken me pages of space to refute every verse. Mostly, you just cited verses and said they proved your point. You really didn't exegete much of anything. Why should I deal with each of these passages...especially since I knew all you would do is say my interpretation was wrong and yours was right. That's why I focused on other passages and tried to deal with our view of Israel as a nation. A good way to counter some interpretation is to cite other scriptures, and I presented several others. You didn't counter those directly anymore than I countered yours. I said I disagreed with your interpretation of those passages, then presented other verses to prove my points. You simply said you disagreed with my points, and kept on presenting your view of your verses. You really didn't exegete any of my verses.

You say there are no verses that lift Israel up as the vanguard of world peace. I had presented Is 2:3-4 as one example. You never even mentioned that of the most beautiful and powerful passages in the Bible. What do you suppose those verses mean?

I mentioned Lk 24. You never mentioned it. What do you suppose this chapter means?

What about Jesus' claim that God could raise stones to become Abraham's children?

You never touched on these passages.

(I'll continue in another comment).
Posted by Jacob_Apologist 5 years ago
here are some free resources
and download software its free resource for studying, commentaries which are available on that website and on download the commentaries and try reading Utley's commentary on those chapters. I am afraid your seminary was extremely liberal to the point of radical atheists, only that explains such a misguided teachings on bible. You should start studying some serious real Christian's works, books, commentaries and i am sure you will realize the difference.
Posted by Jacob_Apologist 5 years ago
I also appreciate your willingness for discussion and learning. My concern and complaint on the debate regarding your dodging of my main arguments or key passages was so correct because you hardly touched them, but simply tried to re-iterate the Rom 9:6 argument in the end which I had already refuted in my first round. We disagree on basic doctrines but in debates n discussions u need to explain certain key passages and scripture and interpret, exeget them to show or prove your doctrines. You can't just offer a vague understanding of whole bible's story by saying that those tons of passages don't matter. You said that since you have another position then the scripture interpretation of certain passages won't work because you may use the same passages to support your position.

Of course you may use the same or any other passage to support your position-- But you have to explain and prove HOW, by your exegesis of the text. That's debate. First you said the debate hinges on our difference of the meaning of Israel. I showed that Israel is "people" AND "homeland/ state" as well. And I proved that neither the "people(Jewry)" nor the state has been dissolved by the new covenant.

Paul argued in Rom9:6-8 that not all physical Israel belong to Israel. Meaning not all of them belong to God (like he said"God's Israel" Gal6:16) or not all of them are "saved Israel". This is in same sense as saying "not all Christians are saved, not all who call Jesus lord lord will be saved". Only those who qualifies promise are saved. The unsaved Jews are still Israel. Abraham had many offspring but Israel was only from promised seed (Isaac-Jacob). Whole Israel is only from this linage. Even the Jews(Israel) were never right with God based solely on their lineage. Its a contrast btw Saved Vs Unsaved Israel(Jews). He explains that unbelief of majority of Israel doesn't make God's eternal plans for Israel void, for there is always a saved remnant in all times.
Posted by thg 5 years ago
Jacob_A: Let's try to take one point at a time, and let's see if we can come to some kind of understanding with each other. I like you, and I'd like us to respect each other and share ideas. Maybe we can help each other. We're both in the ministry, so there's no reason why we can't behave as adults. I hope you will respect that I didn't "just try to play semantics". I sincerely believe in my explanation, and I believe it works. I will certainly admit to not always using clear phrasing, so I can always use advice on how to improve my communication skills. So, if you're willing, let's keep this thread going (or we could start a new forum thread if you like)...or maybe even have another debate.

But, if you don't mind, I'd really like to understand what you're saying. I still don't believe I get what you're saying about Rm 9:7-8. Are you saying that Paul is trying to say that many Jews were not "real" Jews because their bloodlines were from concubines rather Abraham's wife? Perhaps we could start with that particular point, and work from there. Maybe if we just cover one point at a time, I'll be able to understand more clearly what you're saying. I can be pretty slow sometimes, so I greatly appreciate your patience.
Posted by Jacob_Apologist 5 years ago
Thg, since you asked. 1. I said no supersessionist can seriously touch or debate on those passages, I mean to say that in debates.

2. You did disagree with the meaning of "Israel", but that doesn't reduce the need for debate, because I refuted your arguments. For it was one of your reasons for holding the position for the topic. You tried to reduce and dissolve the meaning of Israel, first by saying that God didn't even choose it but later you did say that God chose it-- and then you also argued that Church is the new Israel. So your notion of "Israel" remains irrelevant in light of the evidence from scripture. You just tried to play semantics for your convenience to support your position but it is not possible so easily.

3. Rom 9:7-8. Abraham had many children acc to flesh, from concubines -- but only the children of Promise is counted as his true children. Through Isaac. Only through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the descendants of Abraham are counted as Israel (again ethnic group from Jacob is Israel). His point was that even this whole Israel from Jacob is not saved unless they obey and believe in the promise (faith in the Messiah). He contrast btw Saved Vs Unsaved Israel. He calls the saved Israel as "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16). Download some commentaries from (and wordmodules. com) perhaps you find them helpful. and read this
Posted by thg 5 years ago
@Jacob_A: I'm glad we can continue our discussion, debate or no debate! I'd like to touch on something you said, then ask a question:

1. You keep saying no one can explain Rm 9-11 as I explained it. But that's not actually accurate. I have a degree in biblical studies and own several commentaries. Every one of them explains Rm 9-11 as I explained it in the debate. So I did explain it, and they all explain it. I believe it would be more accurate to say that you don't agree with these explanations. Saying no one can explain it surely is a figure of speech which you are using to express your disagreement with those explanations. The fact is, the explanation I gave is one which I dare say the majority of biblical scholars would support, and I certainly buy into it. So, for me, Rm 9-11 simply reinforces my explanation. Expressing your disagreement is one thing. But claiming "no one can explain" it is a little overstated, no?

2. Your insistence that my view of Israel is wrong and that I continued to sidestep your biblical references is a demonstration of the point I made in the debate: that, unless we come to an agreement on our view of Israel as a called people (which was NOT ethno- or geo-centric), no amount of biblical citations will really help. You and I could use the same passages (just as we did with Rm 9-11), and you will insist they are referring to your Israel, while I insist they are trying to persuade the Jews that the church is the new Israel. Both of us make's just I believe my explanation makes more sense than yours.

3. I'm still somewhat confused by your stance. I'd like to ask you to do what you asked me to do several times. Could you explain to me what you think Rm 9:7-8 means? And also Lk 24? You never addressed these passages (I cited Lk 24 before the last round). I'm not trying to be confrontational here. I'm genuinely interested in your interpretation. Who knows, I could use help with next Sun's sermon!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by snamor 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro was couteous and patient while Con made assumptions a few times and misrepresented Pro's position. Both sides made good points but overall Pro presented a better case that harmonized all of scripture.
Vote Placed by leonardlewis4 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a very nuanced disagreement... It was difficult to determine which side I agreed with in the beginning because both seemed to hold positions I disagreed with--at least the way they articulated the positions. Points to Con for arguments that often stood without refutation.