A Sure Foundation | Religion And Belief

A Sure Foundation

Author: Dwight A. Pryor
SUPERSESSIONISM IS DEEPLY ROOTED in Christian thinking and tradition. This is
the notion that e!ause the "e#ish $eo$%e &re'e!ted Christ( )od re'e!ted the* as +is
!hosen $eo$%e and re$%a!ed Israe% #ith the Chur!h in +is rede*$ti,e $ur$oses in the
earth. As the &Ne# Israe%( Christians su$ersede "e#s as )od-s e%e!t. !o,enant $eo$%e.
This #ide%/ he%d ,ie# is not 0ound in the Ne# Testa*ent itse%0 ut is an inter$reti,e
$aradig* i*$osed on S!ri$ture / Chur!h %eaders at %east sin!e the ti*e o0 "ustin Mart/r
and Augustine 12nd34th !enturies5. The Ne# Testa*ent in 0a!t is si%ent aout
su$ersessionis*. #ith the sa%ient e6!e$tion o0 Ro*ans 7388. #here St. Pau% !hastens
oast0u% )enti%es 0or thinking that )od has re'e!ted Israe%.
Not#ithstanding Israe%-s stu*%ing o,er the Messiah. the "e#ish A$ost%e to the Ro*an
#or%d assures his readers that )od-s !o,enant re*ains irre,o!a%e 9 i.e.. not !ontingent
u$on re$entan!e. Though the/ *a/ e 0i!k%e. )od re*ains 0aith0u% to +is so,ereign
e%e!tion and !o,enant !o**it*ents to the "e#ish $eo$%e as a nation. To assert other#ise
is to i*$ugn the integrit/ and dis!redit the !hara!ter o0 the )od o0 Israe% #ho aounds in
hesed 1stead0ast %o,e and !o,enant 0aith0u%ness5.
:ortunate%/ not a%% Christians through the !enturies ha,e he%d to a &re$%a!e*ent(
theo%ogi!a% #or%d,ie#. :or the*. #hen the Ne# Testa*ent s$eaks o0 &Israe%( it re0ers to
the "e#ish $eo$%e as a nation and not the Chur!h as the &Ne# Israe%(. Un%ike in the
Patristi! tradition. Israe% is *ore than *ere $re$aration 0or the )os$e% or a $re0igure*ent
o0 the Chur!h.
A nonsu$ersessionist ,ie# takes serious%/ the S!ri$tures that s$eak o0 )od-s %o,e 0or
Araha*-s $rogen/. o0 +is so,ereign and un!onditiona% e%e!tion o0 !or$orate Israe%. o0
+is irre,o!a%e !o,enant #ith the "e#ish $eo$%e as a $eo$%e. and the attendant $ro*ises
to the* as a nation that +e !ontinues to kee$. e,en unto the Last Da/s. In this ,ie#. a
%essing /et a#aits a%% nations through a s$iritua%%/ rene#ed nationa% Israe%. the a$$%e o0
the Lord-s e/e.
Su!h a &$ro3;ion( stan!e. / the #a/. does not re<uire a Dis$ensationa% reading o0
S!ri$ture. #hi!h *an/ anti3;ionists de%ight in denigrating. 1In 0a!t the histor/ o0
&Christian ;ionis*( #e%% $redates the 87th3!entur/ de,e%o$*ent o0 Dis$ensationa%is*.5
Nor is a $ro$he!/3dri,en i%i!a% $aradig* 1so $o$u%ar in re!ent generations5 a sine qua
non 0or standing #ith Israe%.
In 0a!t there is a 0ir*er 0ooting. a *ore sure 0oundation on #hi!h to stand. The #itness o0
S!ri$ture testi0ies to it: )od-s i**uta%e and irresisti%e %o,e o0 the "e#ish $eo$%e.
Not#ithstanding their 1*/sterious%/ ordained5 o$$osition to the )os$e%. Israe% re*ains
&e%o,ed 0or the sake o0 the Patriar!hs( 1Ro*ans 88:2=5. Indeed the !o,enant 0aith0u%ness
o0 the :athers 9 Araha*. Isaa! and "a!o 9 is the ,er/ root into #hi!h )enti%e e%ie,ers
in the &Righteous >ran!h( 1"ere*iah ??:8@5 are engra0ted. and Israe%-s s$iritua% %ega!/ is
the &0atness o0 the o%i,e tree( that is *eant to nurture us 1Ro*ans 88:8A5.
The "e#ish $eo$%e are i*$ortant to Christians. there0ore. not e!ause o0 their $ro'e!ted
$%a!e in so*e 0uture i%i!a% dis$ensation. nor as a $ro$heti! ti*e$ie!e 0or an end3ti*e
a$o!a%/$se. The irredu!i%e truth is this: the/ are i*$ortant e!ause o0 their $%a!e in the
:ather-s heart.
Bhat sha%% #e sa/ thenC I0 )od e 0or Israe% sha%% #e o$$ose +i*C In ,ie# o0 the
A%*ight/-s great %o,e and unounded *er!ies. rene#ed ea!h *orning. sure%/ Christians
shou%d at the ,er/ %east stand #ith and $ra/ 0or the "e#ish $eo$%e. This *a/ e an
anguished $ra/er at ti*es. as it #as 0or the A$ost%e Pau%. >ut our !on!erns. %ike his.
shou%d s$ring 0ro* an aiding a00e!tion and un!onditiona% a00ir*ation o0 Israe%-s
irre,o!a%e !o,enant. in,o%,ing S!ri$tures. Land and Peo$%ehood.
This is not to idea%iDe "e#s or e6e*$t the *odern State o0 Israe% 0ro* i%i!a% standards
o0 'usti!e and righteousness. Nor is it to assa/ the $%a!e in the #or%d to !o*e o0 an/
$arti!u%ar indi,idua%. #hether "e# or non3"e#. >ut it is to re*ind us as 0o%%o#ers o0 "esus
o0 NaDareth that #e are $er$etua% detors to Israe% 9 0or our Messiah. our S!ri$tures. e,en
our )odE
Christian histor/. sad%/. attests to the 0a!t that #hen the uni,ersa% Christ is re*o,ed 0ro*
the "e#ish *atri6 o0 his in!arnate e6isten!e and the histori!a% $arti!u%arit/ o0 )od-s
irre,o!a%e !o,enant #ith the "e#ish nation. the resu%ts are su$ersessionis*. an
ad,ersaria% re%ationshi$ #ith "udais*. and e,en anti3Se*itis* to#ard "e#s. Sure%/ the
ti*e has !o*e to *o,e e/ond this histor/ o0 !onte*$t and hu*%/ and grate0u%%/
a!kno#%edge the indisso%u%e ond #e Christians share #ith the "e#ish $eo$%e. To do so
is to stand on the sure 0oundation o0 the %o,e o0 )od.
F 2G84 The Center 0or "udai!3Christian Studies.
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