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Monday, September 13, 2010

The New Replacement Theology

The old replacement theology is simple enough. Also known as supersessionism, the old replacement theology teaches that the church has essentially replaced Israel in God’s plan, and all the promises made to Israel in the Bible have been transferred to the church. Some have even gone so far as to say that America is the New Jerusalem, and when Jesus returns with glory and power, it is on American soil that He will set foot and not on the Mount of Olives as prophesied by Zechariah.

The new replacement theology however is more complex because what we have attempted to replace is not a geographical location, or a nation of peoples, but the very essence of Christianity itself. We have attempted to replace the Christ! Until recently the new replacement theology attempted to replace Christ with prosperity, a hedonistic and self-centered ideology that placed the individual above all else, and as long as the flesh was made to feel good, as long as the physical was tended to and taken care of the spiritual man could readily be ignored, marginalized and disregarded.

“It’s all about you baby! You are the bee’s knees, and as long as you have a positive self image, as long as you have self esteem, then you have finally grasped that ever illusive understanding of what this present life is really all about. It wasn’t for your eternal soul, it wasn’t to save you from the pit of darkness and despair, nope, the Son of God came to earth, hung on a cross, died and rose again so you could have a positive attitude, and an optimistic outlook on life. We all know hell isn’t really real, and the few that still talk about hell within the context of Scripture are just gloomy Gusses, pessimists to the last, who don’t yet know the joys of looking into a mirror smiling broadly, and loving themselves.”

As with anything that is not built upon the true and lasting foundation that is Jesus, as with anything that is not rooted in the Word, this version of the new replacement theology has started to fizzle as of late. Sure, people are still trying to ‘stay positive’ people are still trying to be optimistic, but it’s kind of hard to smile through tears of anguish, and no matter how many mantras we repeat incessantly, it still doesn’t take away from the reality that times are changing, and not for the better.

Rather than turn to Christ in our season of uncertainty, rather than return to the tried and true path of humility, repentance, prayer and communion with God, we have found yet another thing to replace Christ with.

I already know this will rub some the wrong way, I am already bracing myself for the onslaught of unfriendly replies, but truth be known I’ve developed thick skin over the years, and I know that what I write today will prove itself out shortly.

Although in large part we’ve done away with the doctrine of prosperity, we have replaced it with the doctrine of patriotism. More and more, in recent months I’ve been hearing many people refer to themselves as ‘Christian Patriots’, and the simple truth is that one of these must have preeminence in one’s life; one of these must have the number one spot from whence come our decisions, our reactions and our conduct. The question is simple enough: when and if it comes down to it, which will you forfeit? Will you forfeit Christ for the sake of patriotism, or will you forfeit patriotism for the sake of Christ?

Now before labeling me an anti-patriotic heretic, since seemingly Christians like to throw this label around now more than ever before, I would urge you to read this post in its entirety, then through the prism of Scripture, and not our own preconceived notions, come to a conclusion.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The ideal of patriotism in its purest form is a noble and admirable one. As all ideals have a tendency to do however, patriotism too will get perverted by those who want nothing to do with the values of this ideal, but simply want to use it toward their own nefarious ends.

The cycle is easily recognizable throughout history. First there is a core group of sincere individuals who desire to see change, and then inevitably, seeing the power these sincere individuals are beginning to amass, the cunning and the power hungry attach themselves to the cause. Numbers are power, power is clout, and clout is leverage. Such individuals, those who can spot a train leaving the station and hop on it hoping to ride it all the way to its final destination care nothing for values, or ideals, their only concern and desire is power.

Since the church has been living with spiritual substitutes and surrogates in lieu of Christ for so long, once prosperity took a long leap of a short pier, we needed to find something new, and due to the context of the current political climate, many believers readily gravitated toward patriotism. Doing all we can to remove Christ from Christianity we’ve latched onto this new substitute for true spirituality like starving leeches on exposed skin.

I fear however that we are in for yet another rude awakening, and another disappointment of monolithic proportions. Our disappointment at seeing those we’ve helped elect to office turn out to be nothing more than compromising and duplicitous politicians will far exceed the excited and supercharged patriotic zeal we are currently experiencing.

Throughout the years we have failed to seize upon one crucial truth, that truth being the fact that change, true change, comes about not by our might but by His might, and the only way we can compel God to intervene is by repentance and prayer.

The remedy to our national dilemma is simple enough, we must stop attempting to replace Christ, and return to Him; we must stop looking for surrogates, and go to the source of true peace, unspeakable joy, and everlasting rest, finding our purpose and fulfillment in Him and Him alone.

Jeremiah 17:5-6, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

8 comments:

Dimple said...

"Although in large part we've done away with the doctrine of prosperity, we have replaced it with the doctrine of patriotism."

I read that, and I thought how true a statement it is. Many now want to do Christ's work in the world and use politics as the tool. However, a Christian cannot accomplish anything by becoming unequally yoked with the world system, because all the kingdoms of the world are still satan's. Attempting to reform the system which is the enemy's by becoming part of it only results in the corruption of the one who makes the attempt. One cannot serve two masters.

AmyS. Trosen said...

Your posts have been so to-the-point lately that I find myself quoting you repeatedly. Thank you.

Steve said...

Dear Michael -

I've been "preaching" along these lines for the better part of the year. How many of these well-meaning Christian patriots don't embrace (and may not even know) the core Biblical principles upon which these republics were founded? How many hold as a self-evident truth that we are created? That we - first and foremost - owe a duty to God?

I fear our primary allegiance is not to King Jesus ("No King but King Jesus" was a rallying cry of the Revolution) but rather to the Constitution.

Keep on keeping on. Your posting is my homework for today's program.

Best,

Steve

hagnismos said...

No nasty reply from me. You know the teaching about priorities is right there in the Book but oh do we struggle with it until a certain level of maturity hits. Patriotism? I think the most patriotic thing a christian can do for their nation is faithfully represent christ by speaking the truth and living it.

Let the Lord be glorified at all times.

Anonymous said...

Well said my friend. No backlash here. Completely right on and words that need to be spoken in times like these. Can't get enough of the truth so keep it coming!

Jeff said...

AMEN Brother!!! That confirms what I've been thinking lately.

I sent this to a pastor friend of mine last month to get his opinion:

I've been seeing a growing Patriotic movement among Christians in the past few years to re-establish the Constitution, and to get back to the principles of the founding fathers. Many of these principles can be found among the TEA partiers.

As you know I believe that we should be about the business of growing the kingdom of God, and let the Lord take care of the rest. My concern is that some Christians are linking the restoration of the Constitution and America with being faithful to the Lord. In other words, if I'm not putting forth effort to help bring about the restoration of this nation, then I am committing a sin. Since I've been studying Mormon doctrine, I have found that they DO believe in this link.

They believe that the Constitution is an inspired document like that of the book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, etc. The Mormon's of course espouse themselves to be Christian. In fact, they believe that we are heretics and members of the "abominable church". When they go out to witness, they make themselves out to be just another Christian denomination.

My concern is:

Will Christians seeking to restore America align themselves with the LDS church or some other entity and eventually apostatize?

I see this happening with Glenn Beck's 8/28 prayer rally in DC at the Lincoln Memorial - http://www.glennbeck.com/828/ At the men's prayer breakfast meeting at church last weekend, one of the members prayed for Glenn Beck and the event. I'm not sure if he was aware that Glenn was Mormon.

I'm not sure if you have ever watched Glenn's show, but he has had various Christian leaders on that are aligning themselves with him for the sake of "saving" America. When Glenn talks about praying to God, he is not talking about the God of the Bible, but the one in the book of Mormon.

Therefore, do you see this as a growing problem in the church, or am I making mountains out of molehills?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Michael! So true. If anything, America is the "new" Babylon, not Jerusalem. Thank you for speaking TRUTH!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insightful article. I so enjoy reading your articles and learning from them. Thank you. Blessings.