Has the Church replaced Israel?

Over at www.wscal.edu you can read a book review I did on Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation.  In this book, Vlach argues against the so called supersessionism.  He defines it as “the view that the New Testament Church is the new and/or true Israel that has forever superseded the nation Israel as the People of God.”  He argues that Reformed exegetes who hold to these beliefs introduce “change, alteration, or reinterpretation to the original meaning,” of the Old Testament text, and they “do not allow” Old Testament passages “to be the reference points for their own meaning.”

In reality, Reformed Christians see no replacement of Israel because there are not two particulars in the first place.  The New Testament assumes corporate unity between Israel and the church.  Christ is presented as the representative of the true Israel of the Old Testament, and the true Israel—the church—in the New Testament.  The Bible presents a unified history controlled by a wise and sovereign God, who planned the early parts of his Word to correspond and point to the latter parts.  Geerhardus Vos states in Biblical Theology that “revelation does not stand alone by itself,” rather it is “inseparably attached” to the activity of Redemption.  Revelation is the interpretation of redemption.  Because of this, it unfolds itself “in installments as redemption does” (5–6).  Hermeneutics therefore should come from a canon that allows the latter parts of biblical history to function as the broader context.  Christ and the Apostles of the New Testament interpret the Old Testament in light of redemption.  Jesus Christ is the center of history, and the key that unlocks the early portions of the Old Testament promises.  The canon does interpret the canon.

Click here to read the book review. 

6 thoughts on “Has the Church replaced Israel?

  1. Hi Jared. Mike Vlach here. I hope you are doing well. I trust you are having a great experience at Westminster. Today I stumbled across your review and wanted to thank you for taking the time to read my book. Naturally, negative reviews are harder to read than positive ones but I appreciate that you took the time to read my book. I may even link over to your site so some of my readers can see your review. Maybe you and I can have some friendly back and forth on this issue since it seems you have expertise on it.


    • Mike, sorry for the delay, I’ve recently moved to Missoula to begin work on a church plant in the Garden City. I don’t have internet for this comes by way of my smart phone. As for dialogue that would be good, yet I must concentrate on the task at hand following the metaphors 2Tim gives us for the minister. Once I get my feet under me, we could have these exchanges.

  2. In his review Mr. Beaird takes Dr. Vlach to task for appealing to authorities rather than making arguments from the text — and yet he offers only appeals to Reformed authorities and makes only assertions about hermeneutics (i.e. the OT is to be interpreted by the NT and the authorial intent of the OT cannot be discovered w/o the NT; Q. Can the authorial intent of the NT be discovered without some further revelation?) Mr. Beaird makes the same tired argument from the Reformed camp (implicitly) in his graceless comments about Dr. Valch’s lack of scholarship that “Reformed authors are scholars (just because they espouse reformed and anti-dispensational views) and dispensationalists are un-scholarly (just because they espouse dispensational views and ague against covenant theology).” I too would challenge Mr. Beaird to “interact” with Dr. Vlach without dismissal or unfounded assertions and let us see whose scholaship, Mr. Beaird’s or Dr. Vlach’s stands up the best.

    • Westminster Seminary California only gives 500 words for their blog book reviews. They are not intended to be peer reviews. I will let the scholarly community decide to peer review this book. Books and journal articles serve as a better forum for exegesis and biblical theology contra bumper sticker theology. Arguments from text to be done well would take 500 pages not 500 words. I did not appeal to any authorities to back up any exegesis, so I’m confused by some of these remarks, nor did I defend my hermeneutic in any legit way. It was a 500 word book review. As for scholarship the book was weak compared to what I’ve read from the Reformed side, like the glaring weakness of this book not interacting with Geerhardus Vos “Biblical Theology.” I challenge anyone to read Vlach then Vos, it was the difference between night and day for me, comparable to reading Leonard Verduin’s “Reformers and Their Stepchildren” juxtaposed to Heiko Oberman and the Reformation.

  3. Jared. I’d love to discuss the issues with you. I’d be content to leave out any references to others and just focus on Bible texts. Perhaps we can find some kind of forum where we can discuss the issues at hand.

    By the way, how does the Verduin book from a 2007 class at The Master’s Seminary relate to this? Are your past experiences at Master’s and with me the reason behind your review? I don’t know your motives but I have to admit this has crossed my mind.

    • Mike, I’m not sure the best forum either. My blog is dedicated to a church plant. I only posted the review to get views from Missoula. I understand, however, the comments because the WSCAL blog does not allow them. So I did invite them here by posting it. As for my motives, I have nothing against you personally. If my writing has been graceless, I apologize, I’m still a work in progress.

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