“Salad bar Christianity” is when a person takes those parts of the Bible they like and ignore the parts they don’t.
Last week, I opened the topic of a phrase repeated often in the Book of Judges, to wit;
“In those days there was no King in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.
Aaron in Jerusalem.
In my humble opinion, this little phrase describes very well what is wrong with the Body of Christ in 2010, that there is no recognition of the Authority of Scripture and the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Everyone is doing things “his own way” and doing so in the name of Christianity.
After the first email, several people responded with what they thought my next essay should be about, and I plan on addressing several of the issues that came up. But in this essay, I will be addressing what is closest to my heart and that is the false teaching known as “Replacement Theology” which teaches that “the Church” has replaced “the Jews” as the People of God and therefore all the promises in the Bible made “to Israel” actually now apply only to “the Church.”
Replacement Theology has its origins in the Catholic Church, but forms of it have been eagerly adopted by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Protestant Church, and even Islam.
A funny thing about Replacement Theology is that the people among whom it is least popular are those who actually spend time reading the Scriptures themselves and don’t rely on their clergy to interpret it for them.
A side issue that will be addressed in a future email is the problem of what can be broadly described as “topical preaching” that is, when clergy preach on a topic (e.g. social justice) and use scriptural references taken totally out of context to prove their point, instead of taking the totality of a subject as it is treated in Scripture and preaching on the topic that scripture addresses.
This is the ultimate expression of what I often describe as “salad bar Christianity” which is when a person takes those parts of the Bible they like and ignore the parts they don’t.
Romans 9-11 is often cited as the most obvious rebuttal for Replacement Theology, and with good reason. In these three chapters, the Apostle Paul hopelessly debunks the idea hundreds of years before it ever came along.
However, if one wants to find a way to PROVE Replacement Theology instead of rebutting it, one can use Romans 9: 1-8 to do so, even though starting in Romans 9:9 it is hopelessly obvious what Paul is saying and that it does not have anything to do with “the Church” replacing “the Jews” in God’s Plan of Salvation and Redemption for the Human Race.
In Romans 10: 12-13 Paul says “there is no distinction” between Jew and Greek, agreeing with what he wrote in Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11.
Once again, many will take these verses to mean that the modern nation state of Israel and the Jewish People are no longer special to God, that He indeed makes no distinction and therefore ‘Christians’ should not be more sympathetic to the nation state of Israel and the Jewish People. According to this line of thinking, wherever you see the word “Israel” in the Bible, Old or New Testament, you should cross it out and replace it with ‘The Church”
There are three problems with this, and they are, in descending order or importance/relevance.
In Romans 11 Paul totally demolishes the idea that the physical descendants of the nation of Israel have been replaced by the Spiritual “Israel of God” in God’s Plan. The Jews continue to have a role to play, and God continues to bless and love them even in their disobedience and unrighteousness.
Living in Jerusalem of 2010, I can tell you without ambiguity that there is DEEP unrighteousness in this country. Jew, Arab, Christian, and all other demographics in this city are guilty of terrible sins against God, each other and themselves.
But God has still not rejected the Jews, though many if not most of them have rejected not only His Son but even a semblance of belief in God the Father. God keeps His side of agreements, even when His Children do not. That is His nature, and because He is totally Holy, He cannot do otherwise.
The second problem is, since we Human Beings did not write the Bible, we do not have the authority to change anything in it, even if we have the title of “Pope” in front of our names. It doesn’t work that way. If you didn’t create the Universe, you don’t have the Authority to change it. If you didn’t write the Bible, you don’t have the Authority to revise it, even if it’s very convenient for you to do so.
The third reason, as obvious as it is prosaic, is which “church” replaced the Jews?
Was it the Catholic Church? The Lutheran Church? The Greek Orthodox Church? The Coptic Church? The First Baptist Church of Lubbock, Texas?
All of these Churches have at least one thing in common. They are all artificial constructs of ordinary people. They are not mentioned in Scripture, although each will claim that their specific dogma is alluded to there.
“The Jews” however, ARE mentioned in Scripture, MANY TIMES, up to and including the Book of Revelation, which describes God’s plan for wrapping all this up.
To sum up, the only people who believe in Replacement Theology (and there’s actually an awful lot of people who do) are people who are either too lazy to read the Bible for themselves and therefore suffer from self imposed ignorance or wicked people who maybe know the Biblical truth but have made a choice, for one reason or another, to ignore it.
And because they have also made the decision to place their own authority over that of the Scriptures and King Jesus, there is nothing to stop them from ignoring whatever they don’t like about the Bible and/or whatever is inconvenient for them.
There is MUCH MORE to say about Replacement Theology, but this is enough for now.
God bless you all!