6 Feb 2023

Replacement Theology

In this space, I often like to provide some background information that explains in part why we are where we are in the world. While some (too many?) seem to worry about current events, I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to be alive. And as we speed toward the Conclusion, I am fascinated how central Israel is to it all.

Almost 20 years ago, I heard Chuck Missler at a conference say that Replacement Theology is a “scourge” in the American Church. He was exactly correct. By that time, it was “all over” in the sense that even the Evangelical community was compromised with regard to Israel and the Jews. I was born and raised Southern Baptist and in a part of my career when I worked in Christian book publishing, I saw a strong slide toward heresy and even apostasy over the years. Growing up in the 70s, there was a prophecy conference on every street corner. In the shadows of the Six Day War, anticipation about Bible prophecy was sky high.

But the rot had already set in, specifically decades earlier. Seminaries were compromised by the dawn of the 20th century (many people don’t know this at all, but it’s true). The German Higher Critics, that helped pave the way for church-going Nazi officials a hundred years later, were working hard to convince people that the Hebrew Scriptures are myth.

Astonishingly, they largely succeeded.

One reason the radicals of the 60s didn’t succeed in taking over the country then was that there were still enough Bible-believing Christians in the culture that overturning centuries of American tradition wasn’t possible. The Bible still held sway, even if fewer people understood it or knew much about it. Then when the Seeker Driven model was launched in about 1975, that began an accelerated slide down what Spurgeon had called The Downgrade. He had made the point that if one is standing firmly on a mountain peak, a false step can send one hurtling down the side. Theologically, that’s where America was decades ago.

Today…we live in madness. As evil forces in our country attempt to bend and create new realities (more than two genders? What?), churches that should be strong are in fact weak, spitting out drivel and/or actively undermining Scripture.

Only this week we’ve seen stories of Andy Stanley openly embracing homosexual culture. If one of America’s top ministers is doing this, can total collapse be far behind? Some people get upset with me for “naming names,” but I believe A) people deserve to know so that they can make informed decisions about where to worship and B) the deceivers don’t deserve cover and anonymity.

In my view, the false teaching in the American Church is far worse than most of us can imagine. Some of it is “subtle.” That is, certain leaders look like Christians, talk like Christians, and for the most part…act the part. Yet their associations, their statements, their emphases betray a loathing of true Bible belief.

This week, I noticed that evangelical gadfly Ed Stetzer was posting on Instagram his latest hobnobbing with various denominational leaders, ministry leaders, and parachurch groups. He has recently been in front of a conference of Assemblies of God ministers, and students from Fuller Seminary and Wheaton College. It almost defies belief but Stetzer is now the “Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.”

I mention Stetzer because he’s gone on record with his impatience with people that want to hear Bible prophecy teaching, and he’s intimated that more emphasis on the plight of the Palestinians (my take: the PLO narrative) within evangelical circles is a good thing.

Wheaton is the former base of Dr. Gary Burge, as virulent an opponent of modern Israel as you can find in Christianity. Wheaton was poisoned years ago by left-wing thought. Like Fuller (where Rick Warren earned a PhD), Wheaton is a hotbed of leftist thought, focusing on social justice, anti-Israel rhetoric and programs (taking students on “Holy Land” tours complete with PLO ideology), and mocking the Genesis accounts of origins. Fuller is every bit as bad.

Notice that these people aren’t focusing on polluting mainline and Catholic groups; those were fatally compromised many decades ago. Many of their church buildings are now apartments or coffee houses. No, the goal then became to kill Evangelicalism.

I’m convinced that attack is almost complete.

What does this have to do with Israel?

When you spoon up years of faulty teaching to congregations, those congregants begin to know very little about the actual Bible. They might know a lot about Stanley’s latest book, or Jesus Calling or The Shack. But they don’t know much Bible.

This week I listened to the first sermon in a series for a local megachurch, typical evangelical setting. Thirty-million-dollar building, thousands of attendees. The millennial-age pastor is a pleasant guy, good communicator, credentials, the whole nine yards.

His sermon series now is in the book of Daniel. He even did make the point that the last six chapters of the book are prophetic in nature. He then launched into a disappointing study in self-absorption. In other words, typical evangelical messages today are aimed at self. What is God telling me? What does God want me to have? How does this impact my life?

You get the picture.

The tone of this “sermon” series is, Living as an Exile. Among the questions asked:

“In the momentary afflictions, realize there’s more.”

“This is not the story I imagined written for me.”

“There is more.”

Look, I get that the Bible is God’s message to humans. There are scores of topics within its pages, with the foundation always Christ Himself. One of the topics is how the individual finds his or her way to God, after man introduced sin into the world. In that sense, it’s very much about self. If one believes Scripture, one realizes that above all else, ending with God in a new and perfect world is much preferable to eternity in hell.

But the constant emphasis on how a Christian is “seen” by God, or how we “matter” so much…it all adds up to a steady diet of candy. No spiritual meat, no nutrients. Over time, it compromises one’s system.

Honestly, I could write about this every week. I have file after file of evidence of the evil festering in American churches. Further, it is my belief that a majority of these “leaders” know exactly what they’re doing. They’re too smart, too connected, not to know and understand what their teaching is doing.

For our purposes today, it all adds up to an entire Christian population not understanding the specialness of the Jewish people, or how Israel fits into prophecy (dominates!).

The sludge pumped-out of evangelical churches today is grotesque to me. It bears no relation to past sermons, teaching, Sunday schools. And this self-absorption has created a spiritual community that frankly doesn’t care about what happens to Jews in our modern world. And they don’t see at all just how precise and important fulfilled prophecy is.

Increasingly, our megachurches are centers for narcissism. If you think I’m being unkind or harsh, you are entitled to your view.

Just as I’m entitled to mine.

I see quite clearly the timeline to unbelief that spans centuries in our country. From the compromise of educational institutions that were originally founded as religious schools (Harvard and Princeton), to our present-day “community centers” that have tax-exempt status, the magnificent story of Israel is sanitized from the message. Daniel is about the extraordinary faith of a man living in a pagan nation, and is also a repository of astonishing fulfilled prophecy which, I want to emphasize, magnifies the sovereignty of our great and peerless God.

The Bible is not about how we can live our best life now. It is about a sovereign God that came to our world to take our place from the wrath of a holy justice system. It is Christ that we should look to, not ourselves smiling in a mirror.

Over time, sinister forces within the church, subversives, planted the Theology of Self. A very sad outcome is that it nurtured not only indifference to the people that gave us the Bible and our Christ. It also fostered growing hatred of the Jewish people.

They have replaced our Jesus and His brothers and sisters with themselves.

That is a competition that will have only one winner.

And that winner won’t be self.