Replacement theology is the notion the covenant God made with Abraham and the Jewish people has been nullified and now belongs to gentile Christians. In this view the church has replaced Israel as the chosen people of God. Other terms for Replacement Theology are: Triumphalism – the church has triumphed over Judaism and the Jewish people; Supersessionism – the church has superseded Israel and the Jewish people.
Replacement theology began with the church fathers around the time of Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 160). In his book, Our Father Abraham, Marvin R. Wilson explains how the lie of Replacement Theology was originally conceived:
“By the time of Justin Martyr, a new attitude prevailed in the church, evidenced by its appropriating the title “Israel” for itself. Until this time the Church had defined itself more in terms of continuity with the Jewish people; that is, it was an extension of Israel.” Eventually, says Wilson, the church began to “define itself in terms of discontinuity with – indeed, as the replacement of Israel. A triumphalist and arrogant church, largely gentile in makeup, would now become more and more de-Judaized – severed from its Jewish roots. This de-Judaizing developed into a history of anti-Judaism, a travesty which has extended from the second century to the present day.”
In his book, Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, Justin Martyr argues that whatever used to belong to Israel has now become the property of gentile Christians. He concludes that the gentiles are now the new Israel and the Jews are to be separated from Christians – even from God Himself. The coming church fathers would build upon this teaching. At its core, this new doctrine of the church was motivated by gentile triumphal arrogance – not Scripture. The heretical doctrine of Replacement Theology is founded upon the idea that the Jewish people and the nation of Israel are inferior and must be replaced with something greater – the gentile Christian church.
Here are a few of the more viral statements of Supersessionists from Christianity’s long history of Jewish hatred:
“They (the Jews) are become worse than the wild beasts…with their own hands they murder their own offspring, to worship the avenging devils who are the foes of our life…The synagogues of the Jews are the homes of idolatry and devils. They are worse even than heathen circuses…I hate the Jews for they have the law and they insult it.”
Peter the Venerable
“Yes, you Jews. How long, poor wretches, will ye not believe the truth? Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human…I lead out from its den a monstrous animal and show it as a laughingstock in the amphitheater of the world, in the sight of all people. I bring thee forward, thou Jew, thou brute beast, in the sight of all men.”
In his book, The Jews and Their Lies, Luther asks, “What shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?” Here is Luther’s answer: “First, their synagogues should be set on fire. And this ought to be done for the name of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians. Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmud’s. Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore.” Luther concludes by calling for the genocide of Jews: “Even if they were punished in the most gruesome manner that the streets ran with their blood, that their dead would be counted, not in the hundred thousands, but in the millions, still they must insist on being right. In sum, they are the devil’s children, damned to hell.”
Martin Luther’s murderous proclamations against Jewish existence were quoted in Adolph Hitler’s book, Mein Kompf as a basis of support for Hitler’s rabid Antisemitism. Bishop Martin Sasse of Thuringia celebrated Martin Luther’s birthday with these words: “On November 10th, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” He then demanded that the German people submit to the violent Antisemitism of Luther “the greatest anti-Semite of his time.” It is no coincidence that Kristallnacht (the Night of the Broken Glass), the violent rampage of baptized German Christians who burned Jewish synagogues and shops took place on November 10th, 1938 – Luther’s birthday. The holocaust was the natural result of Replacement Theology’s pompous and merciless march through church history.
Most churches in England have embraced Replacement Theology and many American mainline and Evangelical churches, colleges, and seminaries are showing the same arrogant contempt toward the Jewish people. If American Christianity continues her present course of embracing the contempt behind anti-Israelism and anti-Judaism, it will soon become another fruitless and powerless casualty in the church’s long history of Antisemitism. It is time for Christianity to celebrate Jewish calling and destiny rather than presumptuously replace it with its own.