Some supporters of Israel are concerned about the increasing number of evangelical pastors who support "replacement theology."
Also known as "supersessionism," the doctrine of replacement theology essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God's plan; that "the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel"; and that adherents to that teaching "believe the Jews are no longer God's chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel." (Definition from GotQuestions.org)
With the recent dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, proponents of replacement theology have made their opinions known. In one example in an interview with Baptist Press, Jamal Bishara – an Arab Israeli Southern Baptist and pastor of First Arabic Baptist Church in Phoenix – said the church, not ethnic or national Israel, is the people of God under the new covenant, and political support of national Israel should not be confused with faithfulness to scripture. He also said Palestinians in Gaza "are robbed of their freedoms" through "annexation of land" and "taking land from them to build [Jewish] settlements."
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, offers the following advice to those hearing such teaching:
"Any pastor who teaches this type of theology, if you are a member of that congregation – you should flee," she emphasizes. "Paul, in [the Book of] Romans, said that God's calling to Israel was irrevocable – and that we're 'grafted in' because of our faith in Jesus Christ. That makes us part of the commonwealth of Israel."
One of the objectives of Cardoza-Moore's organization is to counter what it sees as a "renewed crisis" of anti-Semitism in America and around the world – often labeled as the "BDS movement" (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction). Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, considers the doctrine of replacement theology as a 21st century example of anti-Semitism.
"It says in Zachariah 12 that all nations are going to turn against Israel," she points out, "and I think we can almost broaden that verse to read all nations and then also all denominations.
"When I start to see the Southern Baptist Convention and some others who should know better starting to insert replacement theology into their doctrine or statement of belief, [I point out] there's nothing in the Bible that remotely suggests that the church has replaced Israel."
She laments that such teaching gains popularity while "evangelical support for Israel is tanking as the church rallies to support the so-called Palestinians."
An enthusiasm gap
Two Christian leaders are concerned that a large segment of evangelicals aren't as enthusiastic as other believers when it comes to the importance of the Jewish state. A poll taken in December 2017 by LifeWay Research found that among Millennials (ages 18-34), only 58 percent have an overall positive perception of Israel. That compares to a 77 percent pro-Israel perception among older evangelicals (ages 65 and up).
"I think there has been a lessening of enthusiasm in support for Israel among Millennials," says Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary. "Polls show [that] among Millennial evangelicals – even [among] the ones who don't believe in replacement theology – Israel is a much more minor thing to them than it is to the 'Busters' and the 'Baby Boomers.'"
Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland sees some political ramifications. "We need to pray that Millennials and younger are not deceived and misled by a secular educational system that is militantly leftist, a media that is so to the left, and the voices in the Democratic Party.
"The last thing we need is for millennials and up-and-coming voters to be given the Democrat Kool-Aid," he concludes.
Land says supporters of Israel need to be a better job of getting their message to Millennials.