By Dave Hunt
On the day of Pentecost, when the church was established, national Israel did not cease to exist. Israel remains God’s special people and is the beneficiary of particular promises which apply to her alone and which are in the process of being fulfilled. Yet there is a growing movement today which identifies the church as Israel, denies any place for national Israel in God’s future plans, and declares that all of the promises and unfulfilled prophecies that once referred to Israel now belong to the church. Earl Paulk, one of the leaders in this movement, writes,
Some of the strongest fundamental churches still preach that Christ will return to gather national Israel unto Himself, and I say that is deception and will keep the Kingdom of God from coming to pass!
In almost any Christian bookstore, about 99% of the books will say that “God’s time-clock is Israel” and that “God’s covenant is still with Israel.”…[I say that] prophecies about Israel as a nation [are] now transferred to spiritual Israel, which is the people of God [i.e., the church]…1
Christians in the West have traditionally been the major base of support for Israel. With the new “the-church-is-Israel” movement gaining a wide following, however, a drastic change is developing in the attitude of many Christians, especially charismatics, toward Israel. While those promoting this belief deny the charge of anti-Semitism, the increasingly bold use of sarcasm, ridicule and openly displayed antagonism by some is ominous. This trend is only in the beginning stage and is growing rapidly. Gary North writes,
When Israel gets pushed into the sea, or converted to Christ, Scofieldism dies a fast death. Rest assured, I have a manuscript ready to go when either of these events happens.2
We are witnessing a revival among Protestants of the traditional anti-Semitism of the Roman Catholic Church. Many people have forgotten that the Church which claimed as its first pope a Jewish fisherman, whose alleged founder, Christ himself, was a Jew, as were the apostles and the entire church in its infancy, very early became a persecutor of Jews. Most Catholics are probably not aware that anti-Semitism was made the official position of the Catholic Church and it remains so to this day. As a reminder:
The Council of Vienne (1311) forbade all intercourse between Christians and Jews. The Council of Zamora (1313) ruled that they must be kept in strict subjection and servitude. The Council of Basel (1431-33) renewed canonical decrees forbidding Christians to associate with Jews, to serve them, or to use them as physicians, and instructed secular authorities to confine the Jews in separate quarters, compel them to wear a distinguishing badge, and ensure their attendance at sermons aimed to convert them.
Pope EugeniusIV…added that Jews should be ineligible for any public office, could not inherit property from Christians, must build no more synagogues, and…any Italian Jew found reading Talmudic literature should suffer confiscation of his property, etc.3
No wonder Hitler felt that he had good precedent for his sanctions against the Jews. The Vatican was understandably silent during the Holocaust and has not yet, after 40 years, recognized the nation of Israel.
Anti-Semitism, like infant baptism, was one of several carry-overs from Catholicism from which Luther never broke free. His pamphlet Concerning the Jews and Their Lies (1542) was in fact filled with lies about Jews: that God hated them, that the Talmud encouraged lying, robbery and even the killing of Christians; that they poisoned springs and wells in order to accomplish this; and that they used the blood of murdered Christian children in their rituals. Providing Protestant confirmation to match Catholicism’s justification of much that Hitler would do to the Jews, in later life Luther
…advised the Germans to burn down the homes of Jews, to close their synagogues and schools, to confiscate their wealth, to conscript their men and women to forced labor, and to give all Jews a choice between Christianity and having their tongues torn out.4
Such extremes are not yet openly expressed among evangelicals and charismatics, and hopefully will not be in the future. Yet the above shows what anti-Semitism can develop into in the name of Christianity. Those presently speaking out against Israel carefully vent their animosity only against the Jews as a nation, while professing a love for them as individuals. Earl Paulk even writes, “I have no disagreement with any who teach that national Israel is important to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.” He says this in spite of having gone on record (as quoted above and elsewhere) that the church is now Israel and that Israel has no place in prophecy.
Instead of “God is dead,” we are now told that “Israel is dead.” There is little difference, however, in the two attitudes, since He is so often identified as “the God of Israel.” David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance attempts to justify the astonishing reconstructionist/kingdom/dominion thesis that Israel was “excommunicated” by God in a.d.70 when the armies of Titus destroyed Jerusalem.6 Under the title, “The Church Is Israel-A Vital Teaching,” McKeever has written,
We love the Hebrews who live…in the nation of Israel. We support them and thank God for such an ally in the Mideast. However, the Lord has shown us clearly that in no way are they Israel. Israel is composed of all believers in Jesus Christ.
It is vitally important for the body of Christ to realize that they are Israel and that the unfulfilled prophecies concerning Israel are theirs to participate in.7
Speaking in Oklahoma City on April 11, 1988, Rick Godwin, a long-time associate of James Robison and popular speaker on Christian media, delivered the type of anti-Israel rhetoric that is becoming so typical in charismatic circles: “They are not chosen, they are cursed! They are not blessed, they are cursed!…Yes, and you hear Jerry Falwell and everybody else say the reason America’s great is because America’s blessed Israel. They sure have. Which Israel? The Israel—the church. …That’s the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!”8 Earl Paulk’s criticism of national Israel and those who look favorably upon her includes the ultimate accusation:
The hour has come for us to know…that the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world…[through] so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, “If you bless national Israel, God will bless you.”
Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!9
Paulk and Godwin were recently lauded and endorsed by Paul and Jan Crouch as guests on their internationally televised TBN “Praise The Lord” show. Paul asked Paulk some of the questions that critics have raised, and the latter did a masterful job of sidestepping the issues and presenting himself as not claiming that the church is Israel (in spite of the quotes above), as not rejecting the Rapture (in spite of having written entire books against it), and other such deceit. Paul and Jan have now added Earl Paulk to their whitewash of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Robert Schuller. They endorsed him enthusiastically, promoted his latest two books (and by implication all of his other writings), and, addressing Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt directly (in case they were watching out there somewhere), asked them if they had heard Paulk’s answers and promised to give them a copy of his newest book, which would correct their false ideas.
If we are to believe the leaders in this “church-is-Israel” movement, then one of the greatest events in the history of the world—the return of the Jewish people to their own land and the rebirth of Israel in 1948—is a freak accident with no significance. On the other hand, if this astonishing occurrence of undeniably great importance is, in fact, the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that the church has so long believed it to be, then here is an indisputable modern miracle of international prominence to which Christians can point—an event which gives irrefutable validity to the Word of God. “The-church-is-Israel” advocates would rob the church of the most convincing available witness to God’s existence, righteous judgment and faithfulness: the remarkable history of the Jewish people, their prophecy-fulfilling odyssey and return to their historic homeland, and the prophesied climactic future events yet to occur there.
The rejection of Israel is essential to the unbiblical Reconstruction/Kingdom/Dominion teaching that a Christian elite has a mandate to take over the world and set up the Kingdom, (a theocracy), as a condition of Christ’s return. Only Jesus Christ himself can be trusted with such power. That is why it is so distressing to hear the Paulks, Norths, et al. laying claim to this absolute theocratic power in Christ’s name. This is but one of many reasons why King Jesus himself must set up His kingdom and personally rule over it—a teaching increasingly rejected in the church today. C.S. Lewis said it well:
I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects.
Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant, a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is going wrong he may possibly repent.
But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely, because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.10
Whether men are ready to admit it or not, the only choice is really between Christ and Antichrist. Nothing less than an absolutist theocracy will hold in check the evil and bring about the radical solution which the world’s ills require. World events point inexorably to the establishment of such a regime. It will either be under the false world religion of Satan and his personal incarnation, or under the truth of God and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. No mere man could qualify, all of the good intentions of COR and the Reconstructionists and assorted other dominionists notwithstanding.
It is quite clear from Luke:24:47-48 and other passages that the disciples were not expected to inaugurate the Kingdom but to be witnesses concerning the King and His future coming. There will be no kingdom of God without the King present and ruling in power. All Christians admit this to be the case when it comes to the spiritual kingdom in our hearts—Christ must reign there. The same is true of the outward manifestation of His kingdom upon earth during the Millennium—He must personally reign there as well.
Currents of change are sweeping through the world and the church. In the crucial days ahead, the evangelical church could well suffer a division over the Rapture and the related issue of Israel comparable to that experienced by the Catholic Church as a result of the Reformation in the 1500s. Nor would it be surprising if, as a result, in the cause of “unity,” the larger faction in Protestantism moved much closer to ecumenical union with Catholicism, which not only has been traditionally anti-Semitic but discarded the Rapture about 1,600 years ago.
Please do not rest with taking my word for what I say. Check it out for yourselves. Be students of God’s Word, lovers of truth, and prayer warriors! TBC