PART 3: Is Messianic Theology Dual Covenant Theology? No.

Ron Cantor —  March 20, 2014 — Leave a comment
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Part 4

Ron Cantor’s Response to “Fulfillment” Theology as presented By Dr. Gary Burge

After examining Supersessionism/Replacement Theology, Burge now comes to a similar dilemma as St. Augustine. He must answer what he sees as a difficult question. In light of how anti-Semeitc Replacement Theology has been, how can Christians do theology, and still honor Israel?

He gives us two choices:

  1. Christianity that honors Israel, but does away with the Abrahamic Covenant (Land promises) to ethnic Israel. In this version of Replacement Theology, Burge holds out hope for revival in Israel, but only after the return of the Messiah—which is not in line with the Prophets, such as Hosea 3:4-5, which predicts Israel returning to her Messiah in the “last days”.
  2. Embrace a Dual Covenant Theology (which he misrepresents as that of God still honoring his promises to Abraham and his descendants, when in fact Dual Covenant teaches that Jews can obtain salvation through the Old Covenant—without Yeshua.)

I see  several problems with this.

  1. He assumes there are only two options. Maybe there is a third option! A theology that says God can honor both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant—that in the New Covenant era God is saving Jews and Gentiles even while there is still grace upon unbelieving Israel. (Romans 11:28-29)
  2. The Abrahamic Covenant is not salvific. The idea that Jews can obtain salvation through Abraham apart from Yeshua is flawed in every way. As I said in the introduction, no one in our movement teaches this! It is like saying, “I can prove to you that two plus two equals five by proving that two plus two doesn’t equal six.” No one is claiming that it does!

However, Burge makes a major mistake in his exegesis, by hypothesizing a) if Dual Covenant theology is not Biblical, than b) the Abrahamic Covenant has changed dramatically! Why does A have to lead to B?

If not for the word ‘possible’ at 29:33 in the video, he seems to be making a case that God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant regarding natural Israel is in fact equal to Dual Covenant Theology—which he has already defined incorrectly. And from this false supposition (that God’s honoring of the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham’s physical seed, is in fact Dual Covenant Theology) he shares several problems. But since his assumption is flawed, the problems not real problems.

Burge says that “the New Testament does not imagine that Judaism is unaffected by the coming of Christ.” Who argues that it does?

Note: This appears to be a debating tactic of Burge, which he employs throughout his talk. He makes an outrageous claim, to say, ‘well, if this isn’t true then…’ in order to arrive at his conclusion. For example, he makes the point about the New Testament not imagining Judaism would be unaffected by it, to claim that the Abrahamic Covenant to natural Israel is now null and void or fulfilled in Yeshua. What does one have to do with the other? Or, because Dual Covenant Theology is unbiblical, the Abrahamic Covenant must change. To the unlearned, it makes sense, but it seems quite manipulative—whether on purpose or not, I don’t know.

Of course, Judaism is affected by the New Covenant, but that doesn’t have to lead, as Burge surmises, to the conclusion that the Church is the new spiritual Israel—in place of the old, natural Israel. There is not one verse in the New Testament that clearly states, God is no longer working through ethnic Israel and her promises are transferred to the Church. That is like me telling my wife that I met someone new. I am not really committing adultery, because when I made my covenant, I was actually looking forward to this other women. But that is exactly how Burge presents God to Israel.

Let’s be clear, the New Testament, while showing that tens of thousands of Jews did embrace Yeshua (Acts 21:20), also shows strong resistance to the message from the Sanhedrin, and Rabbinical/Pharisaical Judaism seems to win out (at least for now) as the dominant Judaism over Messianic Judaism. Burge struggles greatly with the idea that God could be faithful to his promises to Israel without reference to Yeshua (see 29:40 in video). But if he just reads Romans 3:1-4, his question would be answered, for Paul claims that even if Israel does not believe, God will still be faithful because that’s who He is.

Dr. Burge goes on to  discuss the “problem with this view and why it is rarely embraced”… what view? The view that God is faithful to His promises to Israel despite her unbelief or Dual Covenant theology. By now Burge has skillfully taken out the word ‘possible’ and woven the two views together, so that in order to believe what Paul says in Rom. 3:1-4 or 11:29 (God is faithful to unbelieving Israel), you must also be Dual Covenant. It is brilliant as a debate strategy, but it is not fair to the Scriptures.

So to review, this is Burge’s Theory:

In order to believe that God is faithful to Israel, while still in unbelief, regarding His Old Covenant Promises…

  1. You must embrace his version of the Dual Covenant theory…  (Which in the actual theory, Jews obtain salvation through law-keeping—a theory we reject.)
  2. And the problem with that is that Yeshua is no longer central…
  3. Therefore there is no way that the Land of Israel belongs to unbelieving Jews.

He doesn’t actually say number three, but that is his clear hypothesis.

So what do we do with this?

For I will take you (Israel) from among the nations,
gather you from all the countries,
and return you to your own soil.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you,
and you will be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness
and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit inside you;
I will take the stony heart out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put my Spirit inside you
and cause you to live by my laws,
respect my rulings and obey them.
You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors.
You will be my people,
and I will be your God. (Ez. 36:24-28)

This is one of scores of passages that predict the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. Yet, it also predicts revival among the returnees.

Part 4

 

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