Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom continues his series of discussions with Paul Wilkinson, conference speaker and author of Understanding Christian Zionism and Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest is author Paul Wilkinson, and we are about - critiquing a radio interview that the Bible Answer Man (according to many [who] refer to him as that) Hank Hanegraaff is interviewing Dr. Gary Burge, a professor at Wheaton College, and we are just being Bereans. We’re listening to the programs – you can listen with us – and we are… Nothing out of context here. We’re trying to play as much as we can, and we’re evaluating it biblically. We’re checking it out to see how what they’re saying holds up to the Word of God.
On our program last week, we heard Dr. Gary Burge give his story about his experiences and others that he’s had over in trips to Israel – their story, given the Christian Palestinian point of view.
Now, Paul – as I’ve asked last week, and he’ll pick up with this – Paul is going to give another perspective from those he knows, and those whom he’s had experience with in Israel, Christian Arabs.
Paul: So 2008, I’d given – had the privilege of giving a seminar on the history of anti-Semitism in the church at Yad Vashem before a Jewish audience, and then I spent a couple of days up in the north of Israel, and I met this wonderful Arab Lebanese family who showed me just lovely, warm hospitality. I remember being with them on the beach at Haifa. They had so little – not prosperous family at all – but they gave so much, and we had wonderful conversation, wonderful fellowship, brothers and sisters in the Lord. They have a love for Israel – not just a love for the Jewish people as they might have a love for other peoples - a love for Israel and an understanding of what we are talking about: Israel’s place in the plan, purposes, and heart of God. They understood! They understand, and they preach – the pastor in question up in Haifa, he preaches that God has not finished with Israel. He preaches that God has an everlasting covenant with Israel. He preaches that this land belongs to the Jewish people. He preaches that those who bless Israel are blessed, and those who curse Israel are cursed, and he is an Arab pastor who’s blessing Israel and he’s being blessed! He’s not necessarily being blessed materially, but he’s seeing the salvation of Jews, he’s seeing the salvation of Arab Muslims through his ministry, and there is one example.
You know, I am aware of Palestinian evangelical churches. There’s one famously in Bethlehem that’s been firebombed 14 times – death threats issued against the Arab Palestinian evangelical pastor there, Reverend Khoury, because he stands with Israel based on the Word of God! His voice isn’t being heard except in certain circles.
So again, the claim is that they are truly representing the Palestinian people. No, they’re not. They are representing the Palestinian Christian community that is historically theologically amillennial, Calvinistic, replacement theology to the core. They deny it, and I’ve been firsthand witness to their denials, but what it boils down to when you ask them, “What do you believe about these scriptures concerning the restoration of the Jews?” they do not believe this is a literal promise that is being literally fulfilled in our day. It has to be spiritualized and applied to the church in some way.
Gary Burge: Well, replacement theology… And by the way, Hank, just to go back a half-step, I appreciate how you say that it takes a little bit of courage to get into this. As some friends of mine say, you’ve got to have tough skin to be in this game. The things which evangelicals will write about us and actually say on our telephones to us and email to us and actually say to our employers about us, it’s remarkable! I have probably in my entire life never experienced more, sort of, anger and fury from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ than I have over this one issue. It’s a mystery to me why Christians think that this is the issue they’re willing to break fellowship over.
But you know, I guess the most common thing for people to say about folks like us is that we are supersessionists or replacement theologians. This was a teaching that actually was flowered in the second, third, and fourth centuries of the church, and the idea was – is that with the arrival of the Christian church, God had lost all interest in Judaism, and therefore all that Judaism remains to be known for is the crucifixion of Christ. And according to many historians, this teaching, this idea, really led to so much of the anti-Semitism that flourished throughout, say, the last 1,500-1,800 years.
Well, anyway, those of us who have expressed criticisms of the State of Israel have been called “replacement theologians,” as if we are saying [that] theologically God has no interest in Judaism any longer. Well, that’s not the case. Were not talking about Judaism here. What we’re doing is we’re talking about the secular State of Israel, and we are raising concerns about whether or not that state has entitlements that make it above, you might say, the moral questions of the rest of the world.
So for a theologian like myself, I believe, if you read Romans 9-11, that God has an ongoing interest in Israel; God has a place for Israel, according to Romans 11, in the future of humanity. God has not dismissed Jews because of the crucifixion of Christ; in fact, God continues to love those people because of the great ancestry that stands behind them and for how they have been a witness to God’s great acts of history.
So in Romans 11, Paul is clear that, you know, God has a place for Judaism in human history.
The problem has been that that place in human history has turned into an exceptionalism, an entitlement which is now promoted by Christian Zionists, and those of us who stand against that sort of exceptionalism, we are the ones who are described as replacement theologians, and that simply is a confusion of terms. If you hold to an ongoing place for Judaism in human history, you are not a replacement theologian.
Tom: So, Paul, did Dr. Burge cover it? I mean did he get himself off the hook with regard to the position that you’ve been describing as replacement theology?
Paul: No, not at all. He equated replacement theology as…you know, with criticizing Israel, and then he said, “To believe that God has an ongoing place for Judaism is not replacement theology.”
He kept using the phrase or the word “Judaism.” Very confusing. What is he talking about there? We’re talking about Israel. We’re talking about the nation of Israel here. He is replacement theology through and through, not because he says the Jews still have a place, or God still loves the Jews because of their historical ancestry and the role that they’ve played historically. No, you’re a replacement theologian like Gary Burge and Hank Hanegraaff because you dismiss the literal interpretation of countless scriptures when God speaks of the Jewish people being brought back to the mountains of Israel; when God talks about restoring His sanctuary in the midst of His people Israel; when God talks about the land of Israel flourishing again when His Jewish – when His people, the Jewish people, return.
And when they use (as they do in their writings) phrases like, “Jesus is Israel,” or “Jesus is the land…” Gary Burge says this in his book Jesus and the Land – supposed to be giving a New Testament perspective of the land, theologically speaking - Gary Burge says, “No, Jesus is the land. He is the temple. It’s all fulfilled in Him.” That’s replacement theology, because you’ve said the city of Jerusalem biblically, prophetically, has no longer any significance. Yes, it does historically, but it’s not significant any longer. The place of the temple has no significance any longer because Jesus is the temple of God? Well, yes He is, but not at the expense of the physical temple, and we’ve already covered that in places like Matthew 24 and Daniel 9. And he’s coming on the back of the writings of the Protestant Reformers who were replacement through and through.
As you said, they inherited Roman Catholic eschatology rooted in the teachings of men like Augustine, primarily, who was talking of the church being the kingdom of God on earth. You know, “Jesus is ruling and reigning now. This is the time of the millennium now, but He’s ruling from heaven through the church.” That’s foundational to the Roman Catholic Church; that’s foundational to all the canons, creeds, and catechisms of the Protestant Reformation. And you look at the sermons of John Calvin – and my pastor is doing new research on this right now for our new book – you read some of the literature that was published by Martin Luther, not only are they Augustinian through and through, they are anti-Semitic! The phrase, the tone, the language that they used to describe the Jewish people…and people like Gary Burge, like Hank Hanegraaff, like their fellow pro-Palestinian crusaders Stephen Sizer, Munther Isaac (very well known in the Palestinian Christian community based in Bethlehem), they theologically give credit to Calvin! They give credit to N.T. Wright, a modern-day replacement theologian through and through to the core.
So he is being very dishonest. What you just heard in that extract was a total red herring. You ask, “Who has influenced your theological understanding of the Scripture?” and they will go back to the replacement theologians of old.
Tom: Yeah. Just to add to Augustine – you mentioned earlier he’s the father, the doctor-father, of the Roman Catholic Church – most of their dogmas and so on… Amillennialism, the idea that, “No, the Millennium is not the literal thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth, but it started right after the resurrection,” and so on. It’s continuing today. Obviously Scripture talks about Satan being bound, okay, for a thousand years, but he must be bound for more than that!
But Augustine brought in the idea of spiritualizing, of using allegory to understand the Scripture. You can’t be a Berean if you’re going to approach it from that standpoint, because it’s something people are making up as they go along.
Paul: Yeah, and it makes you dependent on men, and it makes you dependent upon their teachings and their interpretation, because how do you know – if it’s about spiritualizing a piece of scripture and seeking the application to your own life or to the church in some way, or looking for a hidden, deeper meaning, who’s to say who’s got the right interpretation? You know, we’re told in the New Testament – Jude declares it at the beginning of his epistle – he talks about contending for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, and by “the faith” he means the body of doctrine that the Lord Jesus passed on to His apostles for the church.
So we should all be absolutely together in what we believe about Israel and what we believe about the Second Coming, the Rapture, the Millennium…
And let’s just boil this all down to one crucial point: what we’re talking about today, first and foremost, is about the Lord Jesus Christ: who He is in His humanity, and about His future inheritance.
There’s a passage of scripture – I just want to read it, because, once again, Hank Hanegraaff, Gary Burge, they don’t deal with this - Luke 1, at the very beginning of his gospel, we read about the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger sent to Mary. This is what he says: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
You run through Luke 1 and you have the song of Mary in the Spirit, you have the song or the prophecy of Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) in the Spirit, and they talk about blessing the Lord God of Israel who has visited and redeemed His people, who has remembered His holy covenant, who has remembered the oath that He swore to “our father Abraham,” and Mary says, “He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed, forever.”
So Luke’s gospel begins with that entire declaration: God has not finished with Israel, and God’s Son, number one, is going to be the Savior, the Deliverer; but He’s going to be the one who confirms all the promises that God made to His people Israel. Paul talks about this in those three chapters – 9, 10, and 11 – that Gary Burge was referring to…wait, I think it’s a few chapters after, it might be Romans 13 – when Jesus came to confirm the promises that were spoken of through the fathers.
But when did Jesus ever sit on the throne of His father David? When did He ever rule over the house of Jacob? This is still to come. This is still to be fulfilled. The throne of David is not in heaven; that’s what Gary Burge would teach. That’s what the replacement theologians teach: Jesus is on the throne of David right now – no, the throne of David was in Jerusalem! Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem to rule and reign on the throne of His, if you like, earthly father or ancestor David. He has yet to rule over the house of Jacob. That’s the house of Israel. But the angel Gabriel declared that this will happen, so that is why Jesus has got to return to this earth, He’s got to return to Jerusalem, and He’s got to return to a restored kingdom of Israel.
And that – in Acts 1, just before we read Jesus ascending back to the Father, that’s the question the disciples asked: “Lord, are you at this time…” They didn’t say, “Lord, are you going to,” but, “At this time are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They knew the Lord was going to restore the kingdom to Israel! They’d been diligent scholars of God’s Word for many years, and they’d been disciples of the Lord Jesus for three and a half years, day and night, with the Lord, and then after His resurrection, He had spoken to them about the kingdom of God for 40 days, and they ask Him that question: “Is it now, Lord? Is this the time when you are going to fulfill all these promises?”
The Lord didn’t rebuke them; the Lord didn’t say, “Well, what are you doing? Don’t you understand it’s not about Israel anymore, it’s about all the nations?” He said, “It’s not for you to know the times and seasons set by My Father’s authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and be My witnesses.”
In other words, the agenda set today by God is to be witnesses for Jesus, to declare the gospel so that Jew and Gentile will come out of darkness and own the Lord as their Savior. What Jesus is saying implicitly - explicitly - in His answer: There is a time and a season set by the Father when Israel will be restored, and when prophecies and promises like that given through the angel Gabriel will be fulfilled. What Hank Hanegraaff and Gary Burge are doing, and those in their camp, they are robbing the Lord Jesus of His earthly inheritance. They are disinheriting the Lord of glory, the Son of God, and that is a crime that’s being committed in the church today.
Hank: Dr. Gary Burge has a brand new book titled Jesus and the Land, and we will have that book up on our website shortly. It is a must-read, written, again, by Dr. Gary Burge, and the reason I think this is so important is that we have labored under the same misconceptions that the disciples labored under. They’re grievous misconceptions. The disciples expected Jesus to establish Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. In fact, that notion was so engrained in their psyches that even as Jesus was about to ascend into heaven – remember them asking Him, “Jesus, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” What does Jesus do? He not only corrects their erroneous thinking, but He expands their provincial horizons from a tiny strip of land on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the far reaches of the world. “You will receive power,” said Jesus, “when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth.” In effect, Jesus left His disciples with instructions to exit Jerusalem, to embrace the earth, to never again entertain the notion of establishing an earthly Jerusalem. They were no longer permitted to view Israel in exclusivistic, parochial categories. Their sights instead had been elevated to an Israel inclusive of Jew and Gentile, and therefore, when you hear someone like John Hagee say, “Jerusalem only for the Jews,” you should be alarmed.
Tom: So Hank Hanegraaff is laying it out for his audience. Is what he’s saying true? I thought that Jesus was going to rule and reign from Jerusalem? And what is he imposing on the disciples? Is this what they were…were they provincial, or were they misunderstanding something here – not that they had everything right, but is that what they were asking Jesus?
Paul: They were asking the Lord Jesus based on what they already understood from the Scriptures, and they knew that there was this hope that one day God would intervene in history and pour out His Spirit - like we read in the prophecy of Joel, partly fulfilled at Pentecost - God would pour out His Spirit upon His people, and that He would restore…He would restore a land that was barren and bring His people back.
We’ve talked already about the husband-wife relationship. God uses these metaphors: He’s the husband, Israel is the wife who’s committed adultery. She’s gone away. God’s given the certificate of divorce, but then says, “I’ll woo you back. You will be my bride, and I will be your husband.” God refers to Himself as a Father to Israel the son. That was the commission God gave to Moses, you know: “Tell Pharaoh, ‘Let my firstborn son go,’” so that the Scriptures are full of God revealing His relationship with the people of Israel.
And so the disciples (we’ve already touched on this), they’ve spent three years, day and night, with the Son of God, with the Lord of glory, who has opened their eyes, and He’s taught them, and He’s revealed – not just the Word of God, but the very character of God in everything that He’s done. And then He specifically gives 40 days to teach them about the kingdom of God, and it’s on the back of that they ask this question. You know, all the signs seem to be in place. You know, He’s risen from the dead! He has conquered death, He’s conquered sin. Is this going to be the time that all these promises are now going to be fulfilled? And Jesus said, “It’s not for you to know the times or the seasons.”
Jesus could have put all – any sort of uncertainty and question marks against that to rest by saying, “No, I’m not going to restore the kingdom to Israel; I’m going to expand, now, your provincial horizons, and show you that Israel isn’t about the Jewish people anymore. Israel also encompasses the Gentiles.” Right there you’ve got replacement theology, again, through and through.
I, as a Gentile believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am not Israel. I don’t belong to Israel, I belong to the church of Jesus Christ. I’m connected with Israel through the Lord Jesus, but I’m not Jewish. I’m not Israel. My destiny is not caught up with the promises made through the prophets to the nation of Israel; my destiny is caught up with what the Lord revealed through His prophets to the church.
And remember, these disciples who are asking this question of the Lord, they are going to be in the very foundation of the church! They’ve got to get this question right, and Hank Hanegraaff is saying that we – he’s not including himself; he’s using the generic “we” – “we Christians, we Christian Zionists, we’ve labored under the same grievous misconceptions that the disciples labored under.”
Now, that is an arrogant statement to make against the apostles. But that statement, that exact statement, was made by John Calvin in his commentary on this passage when Calvin said, “There are as many errors as there are words in the question the disciples asked the Lord. And when the Lord said, ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,’ He was rebuking His disciples for their imbecility.”
Now, the listeners to this program, my brothers and sisters in Christ, they can look up that commentary, read it for themselves: that was John Calvin saying the disciples got it wrong, and they had to be corrected. Hank Hanegraaff is coming on the back of that; Gary Burge is coming on the back of that. I even had that statement from Calvin shouted at me by Stephen Sizer, who works – no, he’s another Christian Palestinianist, evangelical Anglican vicar, works closely with Hanegraaff, closely with Gary Burge, closely with Bill Hybels and Lynne Hybels that are all in the same, you know, part of the same crusade against Israel. Stephen Sizer shouted that at me, Calvin’s statement at me, at a Sabeel Conference in 2004 when I challenged the speaker, Palestinian Lutheran pastor called Mitri Raheb, who declared that in asking that question of the Lord Jesus, the disciples were “narrow-minded, pinheaded bigots.” Now, that is an appalling statement to say of anyone, but for a so-called evangelical pastor to use those terms of the apostles of Jesus Christ, you know, that is crossing the line big-time. Hank Hanegraaff is just saying the same thing.
So on that occasion, Sizer just took to the microphone, and he shouted me down with that quote from Calvin’s commentary. It’s replacement theology through and through. “Israel’s finished.”
You’re hearing they’re, you know, expanding Israel so it includes Jew and Gentile: that’s allegory. That’s going back to Augustine, that’s going back to Origen - 2nd, 3rd, 4th centuries; and sadly, that is what has been in the foundations of so much Christian theology for nearly 2,000 years, and it’s a total misrepresentation.
Tom: Yeah. I also think of one of the heroes – he was mentioned at the Strange Fire Conference, which all the speakers were Calvinists – but they lauded John Chrysostom, who was one of the most anti-Semitic of the early church fathers that you could possibly find.
Paul: Oh, absolutely. You know, the synagogue is a “den of demons.” The Jewish people are – you know, they “worship in a brothel.” The Eight Homilies that he infamously preached, that you can read in the histories of the early church, they are venomous. And yet men like Chrysostom, Augustine, Calvin, they’re being championed by many evangelical leaders today.
Tom: My guest has been Paul Wilkinson. He’s the author of [Understanding Christian Zionism], and some booklets: Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name and [The Church at Christ’s Checkpoint], and we have been critiquing an interview between Hank Hanegraaff, known as the Bible Answer Man, and Dr. Gary Burge, who – well, he’s from Wheaton College, and he champions Christian Palestinianism. And we want to encourage our listeners to listen to what we all have to say, but then you need to be Bereans. You need to check these things out. Many references are made to the Word of God, to the Scriptures, and you have to decide whether these things are so, as we’re encouraged in Acts:17:10,11. Next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to wrap up this series, and I hope you’ll join us.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Paul Wilkinson’s books are available through the Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.