PROPHECY UPDATE — SEPTEMBER 2005

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY



This update is a must read, and deals with a very important topic:   The Church's lack of understanding of prophecy, and the redemptive plan for Israel.  All prophetic events to come, including the rapture, tribulation period and the Second Coming, are centered around God's plan for Israel.  These events are already in motion.  As many of you have read or seen in the media, hurricanes Katrina & Rita may be the most expensive and deadly natural disasters to ever hit the United States.  What is not known, or seldom discussed amongst Christian leaders, are likely reasons for such horrible events occurring here.  Some scholars and prophecy experts point out that there is a relationship between Gaza pullout last month (August) and the recent hurricanes to hit our coasts.  Others have noted that our government's pressure on Israel to make peace in the Middle East is simply against the will of God, and we are now seeing the veil of protection being lifted from our nation.  White House correspondent Bill Koenig's recent book, "Eye to Eye, Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel," points to many of these correlations.  He suggests Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are a direct result of our government's pressure on Israel.  Read on! 

God returned to the Israelites to their promised land (with human intervention) officially in 1948.  That was due, in part, to God using the United States and the United Kingdom ("Christian" based nations) as a driving force behind that historical event.  For the most part, both countries have been strong supporters of Israel and their people.  However, that has been changing, particularly since the Clinton administration; and even now global opinion of Israel is becoming increasingly negative.  The United States, the UK, the EU, and Russia have all been pressuring Israel to give up her land for "peace."  The Gaza pullout was a direct result of the United States applying strong pressure (from the Bush Administration) to do so.  Bad idea!  That invoked a response from the Lord God Almighty!

Any time we talk about end-time prophecy we have to start with Israel.  Israel is, and always will be, the focal point of last-days prophecy.  Unfortunately, it has been estimated that nearly 100 million American church members (about 63% of church attendees) have very little or no understanding of Bible prophecy, or the significance of Israel and events surrounding the Middle East.  I've come to believe this very troubling statistic is a root cause for much of the apostasy we see amongst church members today. Why? These church members are mostly from "replacement theology" churches (Catholic and Protestant) that ignore Bible prophecy, or view prophetic scriptures as allegorical.  In my view, the suggestion that prophecy is allegorical (non-literal) is one of the most tragic errors in all of Christendom.

Replacement theology is the teaching that the Church replaced Israel in God's plan for the ages (that is, the Church is to receive the promises of God to Israel).  The teaching came out of the Catholic church and remains in many protestant denominations today. A more radical form of this view (also widely held by protestant denominations) is called "Preterism" or "Covenant theology"—the teaching that nearly all the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  The great tribulation is associated with the fall of Israel in 70 A.D.  preterismNero (first Roman emperor to carry out organized persecution of Christians) was apparently the Antichrist, though Nero died in 68 A.D. by suicide.  Jesus Christ then returned a second time in 70 A.D.  Essentially, replacement theology and preterism are used interchangeably in prophetic circles.

Summed up, these teachings hold that modern-day Israel isn't really the Israel of the Bible, and that it has no special spiritual connection to the land they possess today.  Interestingly, this theological view in many protestant denominations also shares the Vatican's steadfast support for the Palestinian cause.  This view is responsible for misleading national and international leaders.  Even though President Bush is a Christian, he is a member of both the Episcopalian and United Methodist denominations, which promote this Biblical error.  Thus, the Vatican and National Council of Churches welcome President Bush's initiatives in the Middle East, altogether ignoring the biblical significance of Israel's covenant land.
 
Scholars point out that replacement theology is also the root cause of modern anti-Semitism amongst Christians and so-called Christian nations.  This teaching also denies that a rapture event will occur, and that we have no hope of a Second Coming.  To make things more confusing, some preterists believe the Second Coming is yet to happen.  They call themselves "partial preterists."  How convenient.
 
Scholars note the myriad of problems with this theology, such as dealing with the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries, and the revival of the modern state of Israel.  If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people despite the many attempts to destroy them?  How do we explain how and why Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for nearly 1900 years?  How do they explain who was the antichrist prior to 70 A.D.?  The answer is that they can't answer.  The facts are ignored or explained away—which is generally the case with false teachings.

There is one popular Christian radio commentator who is a strong proponent of preterism and replacement theology. Hanegraaff  He is Hank Hanegraaff of the Bible Answer Man program and the Christian Research Institute (CRI).  While Hank is an excellent defender of the faith when discussing cults, you may have also heard him speak on the topics of Israel, tribulation period and the rapture.  He often spends air time discussing deep theological implications of the topic, or he criticizes evangelical leaders who oppose his views.  In 2004 Mr. Hanegraaff began more aggressively defending his position, and subsequently isolating a large portion of his audience.  At the beginning of this year (2005), Mr. Hanegraaff was concerned for his ministry.  Regular requests for donations on the radio program indicated that contributions had declined dramatically.  What had happened was hundreds of regular contributors had stopped giving.  Those who have a grasp on Bible prophecy know that Hanegraaff's eschatology (study of Bible prophecy) is wrong.  Why focus on Hank specifically?  He has a broad reach nationwide through his radio show, and he is responsible for the promotion of this false doctrine to thousands of listeners.  There are many prophecy scholars who outright reject Mr. Hanegraaff's theology—based on current prophetic events.

Still, many of our nation's prominent Christian leaders just don't talk about Bible prophecy or Israel.  Equally troubling is the fact that eschatology has vanished from our pulpits because many feel it is divisive, confusing, or might drive away today's "seekers."  Perhaps the message that "the King is coming" doesn't fit in to today's "feel good," "seeker" churches.  The good news is that many protestant denominations have rejected preterism, and most Bible believing prophecy scholars, ministers, and teachers believe Israel will be the starting point for the next set of prophetic events over the next few years.  All of the prophetic events I've written about, read about, studied, and witnessed are taking place exactly as the Bible said they would. 

Perhaps those who try to explain the theology of preterism (replacement theology) and teach that most of prophecy is history (that is, already happened) will also be able to explain the time when a third of the trees were burned up, enormous hailstones fell from the sky, and the time when the sea turned into blood (Revelation 8:7-8, 16:21).  Prophetic events coming soon will answer all those questions!

Looking up,

Tim Osterholm

SoundChristian.com


 

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