Composing a Doctrinal Statement [section 7 part 3 — on Israel]

Composing a doctrinal statement (or any other essential documents) can be one of the most arduous (but crucial) projects undertaken by a church. In this series, I’m sharing my own doctrinal statement, a section at a time, in an attempt to provide a helpful example of a detailed statement that is worded positively, but articulated precisely enough to exclude certain theological positions for the protection and unity of the church.


Israel: We believe that the church is distinct from, and has not replaced or fulfilled [1], the nation Israel in the plan of God, but that God permanently selected Israel as His covenant nation, for which certain covenants would be fulfilled for the display of God’s glory and faithfulness. Israel is now dispersed and oppressed because of disobedience and the rejection of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, but will be regathered in their promised land, in peace, in the future kingdom of Christ to enjoy fully the blessings and promises of God’s covenants with ethnic, national Israel. According to a normative reading of Scripture, the nation of Israel has particular covenants of promise given to it (e.g. Abrahamic, Davidic, New) which have not all been fulfilled in every detail. Nevertheless, they must be fulfilled if the veracity of the promises of God is not to be called into question [2]. The hope of the literal fulfillment of these covenants is to those Israelites identified in Scripture as the Remnant. These are the true Jews in every dispensation — the Israel of God. [3]

(Genesis 12:1–3; 13:14–17; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:3–4; 20–37; 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5–6; 31:31–34; 32:37–41; 33:19–21; Ezekiel 11:17–21; 36:24–38; 37:21–28; Romans 9–11; Galatians 6:16)


Notes:

1] Many covenant theologians do not like the term “replacement theology,” preferring instead to view the church as being the fulfillment, or continuation, of Israel. Some, however, do explicitly teach that the church has replaced Israel, since the covenant promises given to Israel have now been transferred to the church (so they say). Sometimes it is said that the church began with Abraham, in which case “church” is equated with the called people of God, or something. Other times, “church” is used to refer to all saved people of all time (starting with Adam). Inconsistent and confusing — yes. This doctrinal statement rejects all such variations of Covenant Theology.

2] If we cannot trust the plain meaning of God’s language in his covenants, what of His Word can we trust? Notice that the glory and character of God is at stake. God Himself views His covenant-keeping character as one of the most essential aspects of His glory, so we dare not dismiss His covenant promises to the nation of Israel.

3] Notice that I have not used the term “dispensational” or “dispensationalism” in this statement, and yet clearly maintain a dispensational position. This is because some people just have an automatic visceral reaction to terms like “dispensationalism,” without even taking the time to see what dispensationalists have to say. So, for the sake of not turning people off immediately by the use of the term, I haven’t used it — even though anyone carefully reading this doctrinal statement will recognize that it is dispensational in it’s interpretation.

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