Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Dispensational Dilemma

(Editor's Note: On the road so taking a day off from Crazy Love. I plan to be back tomorrow.)

Over on Sharper Iron, Professor Steve Davies has posted a well-written piece on the theological and political place of modern day Israel. I have copied a few key paragraphs to wet your appetite below. It is a valuable contribution to the dispensational vs. covenant theology discussion.

Is Present-Day Israel God’s People? A Dispensational Dilemma
by Steve Davis

..... One of the ramifications of classic dispensationalism is the often-unqualified identification of the modern nation of Israel as the people of God. This view intensified in the twentieth century with the Holocaust and the founding of the modern state of Israel. Many view through a prophetic lens the United Nations declaration of 1948, which brought national Israel into existence as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. For many this perspective requires almost unquestioning support of a seemingly invincible Israel, which has been rightfully returned to the land and will never be defeated. The myth and aura of Israeli invincibility was burnished over the years by the heroic and courageous spirit of the Israeli people in wars beginning with her independence in 1948. These wars include the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Although more recent apparent defeats or setbacks have tarnished Israel’s image (for example, the July 2006 war with Hezbollah), Israel continues to enjoy popular support in dispensational circles as the people of God. ....

..... The history and experiences of modern Israel are not determinative in the identification of modern-day Israel as the people of God. Ultimately, there are theological questions only the Word of God can answer. Theological systems with different hermeneutical assumptions provide diverse responses to the question of the nature and identify of the people of God.

..... Where does this lead us? Is there a way for dispensationalists to view present-day Israel in a way that remains faithful to Scripture, does not distort or inflate the place of contemporary national and natural Israel, and does not give the slightest hint of promoting anti-Semitism? A straightforward reading of the Old Testament lends support to the idea of a future restoration of Israel that has received irrevocable promises (Jer. 31:31-37).The question is how those promises will be fulfilled. One’s hermeneutic will determine if these promises relate to fulfillment in the future of a national Israel, promises in which the church participates, or if the promises are presently fulfilled in ethnic Israelites, a present remnant who become part of the new covenant people, the church, through the new birth.

..... Covenantal and dispensational scholars have debated texts and interpretation for decades without reaching consensus, and none will be reached in this article. I understand the different views on this, the similar texts, and the processes that lead to different interpretations. I am not overly concerned about how God will accomplish the details of His purposes. I fully expect all our eschatological schemes to be corrected. My struggle is how to relate these texts to the nation Israel in its present state. Can unconverted ethnic Jews in the land of Israel be considered the people of God? If so, in what sense? Do we then have two peoples of God, the regenerate church and unregenerate Israel?

Read the entire article here >>>

3 John 8
Bill H

No comments: