In part 1 we briefly examined the theological persuasion of the dispensational evangelical. Now in part two we look into some of current attitudes that exist in the world outside of dispensational evangelicalism.
The tragic history of Luther’s later years has haunted Europe for centuries. Early on, Luther took a “noble savage” approach to Europe’s Jewish population. He did, in fact, provide a verbal defense of the Jews against Rome’s errors:
In the decade 1513-23, when Luther had hoped for the conversion of the Jews, he openly declared that both he and the Jews had suffered from Catholic bigotry. Shortly before he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, he wrote that the Catholic clergy, not the Jews, were the ones who truly profaned the eucharist.
And even though
Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not a separate replacement entity.
There remains a problem, and that is whether or not the physical promises, such as land, remain intact. If those promises were only figurative of what was to come (dispensationalists and others also believe they are figurative, but not only figurative) then the nation of Israel, and thus the Jewish people, hold no functional place in God’s future plans. The people and nation are set as equals among other nations, targeted for evangelical outreach, but are not seen as possessors of the physical promises.
As a resolution to some of these issues “new covenant theology” which makes the claim that
Dispensationalism cannot get Israel and the church together in any sense whatsoever, and Covenant Theology cannot get them apart
Though is represents a misunderstanding of dispensationalism, at least an effort is made to resolve the discrepancy.
Liberal theology cannot be ignored here. The movement has no specific, identifiable attitudes that are part of any larger movement or ideals. Some treat the Jewish people and nation as a persecuted group to be protected. Some ignore the issue completely. Others, though, take a perspective of hatred for the nation and people that makes Martin Luther and Rome look almost polite.
Liberal political attitudes often come coupled with this level of hate. Whether the words of liberation theology, Jeremiah Wright or Jesse Jackson, the problem is a serious one. As indicated by this quote from the linked primer:
The present brutal, repressive and racist policies of the State of Israel would suggest another exile on the horizon rather than a restoration…. how sinful do you need to be to get to be on God’s hit list?
May so-called “anti-Zionist” leftists and sympathizers behave consistently, giving support to Israel’s enemies, but pretending that it is only a position on Zionism. David’s criticism of Cornyn is typical of this pretense. What is forgotten is the consequence: Supporting the enemies of Israel will result in the death of Jewish people. They may like to claim a distance and pretend that they are only talking about a concept or about a matter of government wrongs (as when Ahmadinejad’s statement about destroying Israel somehow meant only the removal of the current regime). But the end is that the enemies of Israel seek its destruction.
One consequence for dispensationalists is that our message must always be a positive one. There are no liberal dispensationalists, so we can avoid their violent rhetoric and consequence. And we can challenge our covenantal brothers and sisters to correct their theological (and consequential social) attitudes. If the people of faith are a people of peace, we do well to pursue peace. It is, after all, a command.