Book Reviews

Israel and the Church

The Origins and Effects of Replacement Theology

Ronald E. Diprose Waynesboro, GA 2004-01-01

How is it that so much of Christendom believes that ethnic Israel has been replaced by the church in the outworking of God’s plan throughout history? Diprose, academic dean of the Italian Evangelical Bible Institute in Rome, Italy, answers this question by discussing the misuse of numerous New Testament passages, the influence of replacement theology in postapostolic times and in the medieval era, and the failure of church leaders to follow sound hermeneutical principles regarding Israel and the church. Diprose discusses numerous passages that replacement theologians have misinterpreted, and he shows how millenarianism is the only way to understand them properly. The author then discusses how so many of the early church fathers believed that God had disinherited Israel and that the promises to Israel were allegorized to the church. Diprose comments on the import of replacement theology in early Christian writings from the Epistle of Barnabas through Augustine on ecclesiology and eschatology. Then he points out the influence of the Roman papacy on these aspects of theology.

He concludes, “Neither Jesus nor the writers of the New Testament linked the prospect of a universal kingdom of peace and righteousness with the present age; rather they associated it with the Messiah’s Advent” (p. 168). “The logic of replacement theology required that much of the Old Testament be allegorized. . . . The presumed repudiation of Israel as an elect people permitted the Church to consider itself the normative expression of the long-awaited messianic kingdom” (pp. 169–70).

While Diprose never uses the word “premillennialism,” this book presents a strong and welcome defense of premillennial theology and a strong polemic against amillennialism.

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