Home > Barry Horner, eschatology, Israel > Future Israel: The Seed of Abraham

Future Israel: The Seed of Abraham

August 24, 2010

I’m now reading through Barry Horner’s Future Israel, which includes many examples of the wrongs brought about by supersessionist eschatology.  I previously noted that often the people who are already prejudiced against Jews, upon conversion to Christianity, will choose a theology that suits their own ideas, and thus replacement theology is a natural fit for such individuals.  Yet I also see his main point, that we can judge a particular eschatology, discern whether it’s right or wrong, based on the type of fruit it yields.  Does the Augustinian Church replacement view produce Christians with the same fervency, passion and love that Paul expresses in Romans 11, that he almost wishes he were cursed and cut off, for the salvation of his people Israel?  Only a right biblical understanding of Israel’s place in God’s Divine Purpose can understand that kind of compassion for Jews.

In chapter three of Horner’s book he gives a point-by-point refutation of the points in an “Open Letter to Evangelicals” (p. 66 and following) by anti-Zionists, for a good contrast between the two belief systems.  Here he addresses the common mistake of confusing the unconditional Abrahamic covenant with the conditional Mosaic covenant.  (See my previous blogs about the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, from S. Lewis Johnson’s Divine Purpose series, for further information.)  The following is a good explanation concerning the different aspects of the Abrahamic covenant:

From Future Israel (page 72):

(From the Open Letter):  The inheritance promises that God gave to Abraham were made effective through Christ, Abraham’s True Seed (Gal. 3:16).  … Since Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the Abrahamic Covenant, all who bless Him and His people will be blessed of God, and all who curse him and his people will be cursed of God. (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:7-8)  These promises do not apply to any particular ethnic group, but to the church of Jesus Christ, the true Israel.  The people of God, whether the church of Israel in the wilderness in the Old Testament or the Israel of God among the Gentile Galatians in the New Testament (Gal. 6:16), are one body who through Jesus will receive the promise of the heavenly city, the everlasting Zion…

Horner responds by pointing out, first, that Jesus Christ is never said to be the “mediator of the Abrahamic covenant.”  But even if we grant that idea, that does not do away with the additional use of seed (in the Abrahamic covenant) in its national meaning:

Furthermore, the seed of Abraham has application to Christ according to Galatians 3:16, but this in no way invalidates the “seed” of Genesis 12:1-3 being the nation of Israel anymore than does “seed” in Genesis 13:15; 17:7.  The exegetical reason is that God says to Abraham, “your descendants (seed)” shall be as the innumerable stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5).  These references are to the nation of Israel, not exclusively to Christ as an individual.  Paul’s employment of midrash (a distinctive Jewish, applicatory interpretation) incorporates Christ as the root of promised blessing without at all denying the obvious promise of national blessing, the plurality of “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).  Plainly the terms of the curse/blessing in Genesis 12:2-3 principally refer to the national seed here, notwithstanding the textual manipulation which betrays a difficulty that the obvious sense presents.  To be sure, Christ is the ground of covenant blessing, but this does not nullify national blessing as is plainly indicated.

  1. Diane
    August 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    While you were writing the above with respect to the “Open Letter to Evangelicals” and the Abrahamic covenant, I was making the same observation by way of comment on your Bonar blog. Obviously, it’s a truth that stands out.

    And speaking of truth, I “happened” on a follow-up to all this, i.e. Future Israel Ministries. I briefly checked out all the categories and then came upon a quote in a book written by Barry Horner called “Bible Introduction 101” in which the author says the following: “Faith, as is so wrongly understood, is not the response to abstract thought, to sentiment and tradition; it is not a leap in the dark. Rather, faith is a leap in the light; it is the embrace of truth. Granted that faith does not necessarily grasp the totality of truth, yet is lays hold of sufficient truth that is regarded as being worthy of commitment to its claims”.


  2. Diane
    August 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I got such a kick out of this quote by Horner in Future Israel with respect to Patrick Fairbairn, a Scotsman (1805-1874): “Thus the conclusion of Fairbairn is that at the consummation of the church, peculiar and historic Jewishness will have been done away with, superceded, absorbed into the one people of God, and particularly with regard to any distinction concerning the territory of Israel. In essence, Augustinianism and Catholic eschatology and Fairbairn are in agreement at this point. Thus the good news for the Jew today is that his distinctive Jewishness is divinely passé, a biblical anachronism. Those Christians who believe this will, nevertheless, declare their desire is that the Jews be saved. But they dare not explain to these same Jews their whole agenda which includes salvation from Jewishness. Yet how this approach flies in the face of Paul’s whole attitude toward the Jews (Romans 11:28) in that he freely confesses that he remains one of them”.

    • August 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      So well said, indeed. The strange thing always is, that those who say they love the doctrines of Grace, God’s sovereign election, want it for themselves — but then turn and act like Arminians and insist that Israel lost election because of their works. If they only knew the full implications of such a notion: if Israel could lose its election because of its own actions, then what assurance do they have that God will keep and preserve them on the basis of God’s choice (election)? What assurance that God will not cast them away even as He (supposedly) cast Israel off forever? The very thing that Paul warned the Gentiles about — arrogance against the natural branches — has taken hold of the Christian church throughout history. And yes, as Horner points out, the resulting attitude of those who are arrogant toward the natural branches is so opposite of Paul’s whole attitude and concern as evidenced in Romans 11 — again something so obvious, how can they continue to escape the obvious conclusion that their view is so unbiblical?

  3. Diane
    August 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Well put, Linda.

    I further read that Horatius Bonar and Patrick Fairbairn were contemporaries and have just finished some of Bonar’s challenges to a number of Fairbairn’s statements, one of which is the latter’s belief in the conditionality of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Apparently It should have happened long ago but it is conditional upon what we, His creatures, will do. Hmmm…

    There is quite a sequence of verbal sparring between the two of them.

  4. Diane
    August 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I am just finishing the book of Jeremiah and was suddenly jolted back to the subject at hand. It was during the time when the Jews were living in captivity in Babylon where I read the following: “All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said ‘we offend not because they have sinned against the Lord’…” (Jer. 50:7)

    Is not this the ongoing theme of what we are reading in “Future Israel”, the abominable attitude that came out of the Christian churches from practically day one towards the Jews in the diaspora? To paraphrase: “We’re not doing anything wrong because they sinned against the Lord in rejecting their Messiah”.

    As John 16:2 puts it: “…will think that he doeth God service”.

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