There are some disturbing consequences to Replacement Theology according to MacArthur. MacArthur quotes Barry Horner in his Future Israel:
“The wrong perception of Israel and the Jews by so called Christians has produced consequences of horrific proportions during the history of the church. Such a shameful legacy perpetrated during the illustrious Reformation and onwards remains undiminished, largely unconfessed and still prevalent in substantial degrees up to the present within a Calvinistic Reformed and Sovereign Grace environment.” What he is saying is that while we are being told we ought to apologize as a nation for the early attitude in America manifest in slavery toward African‐American people, we ought to start apologizing to the Jews for the way the American [and European] Church has treated them with its replacement theology.
MacArthur argues, as well as others, that Replacement Theology started with Augustine and resulted in anti-Semitic attitudes:
Augustine, the North African church father who came up with this idea (Replacement Theology), established this idea that the church was the new [Spiritual] Israel. During the thirteenth century, the church established Replacement theology as canonical law. It became the official dogma of the church. Let me give you a little bit of this history written by Robert Wistrich: “Augustine even likened the Jewish people to Cain, the first criminal recorded in biblical history who had murdered his own brother and merited death but instead had been condemned to wander unhappily ever after.” [Likewise] Augustine saw the Jewish people to be like Cain, alive but dispossessed, a perpetual wanderer. “The Jews,” Augustine said, “might deserve to be eradicated for their crime of rejecting Christ, but he preferred that they should be preserved as wandering witnesses until the end time,” that is witnesses to what happens when you reject the truth.
The influence of Augustine is also referred by others: Wistrich [further] says in his book, Anti‐ Semitism, The Longest Hatred,
“The Augustinian theology reinforced the notion of the Jews as a wandering, homeless, rejected and accursed people who were incurably carnal, blind to spiritual meaning, perfidious, faithless, and apostate. Their crime being one of cosmic proportions, merited permanent exile and subordination to Christianity.” One writer W.J. Grier, writing in the The Momentous Event, said, “The power of Augustine is best seen in the fact that he removed the ghost of premillennialism so effectively that for centuries the subject was practically ignored.”
MacArthur cites the Lateran Council (the Fourth Lateran of Council 1215) as another example:
The Lateran Council of the thirteenth century, in the year 1215, codified this segregation of the Jews. And further this Lateran Council segregated the Jews by requiring them to wear distinguishing dress. In Germanic lands they wore a conical hat and what they called a Jew‐ badge, usually a yellow disc sewn onto their clothing with the color symbolizing Judas’ betrayal of Christ for gold coins. That is what was done to them in Latin countries. These effects, of the badge that was required to be worn and the conical hat, were to make the Jews more visible and vulnerable to attack which [in turn] reduced their ability to travel. And so they were placed in ghettos during the twelve hundreds. The German Reformation a few hundred years later, under Luther’s guidance, led to a very unfavorable direction for the Jews, that is the seeding of hatred that was sewn deep, and Luther did nothing to remove it. It eventually found its full flower in the Third Reich with Hitler. And the German Protestants showed themselves amazingly receptive to Nazi anti‐Semitism, it having become so ingrained for many, many centuries. You can go back to the Council of Nicaea in 325, a council which was debating the person of Christ and came up with the right understanding of his divine and human nature. But in the documents of [that same] Council of Nicaea, Jews are called “that odious people.”
MacArthur gives current examples of this result of Replacement Theology:
Now this actually continues to be an issue today. In our modern world, our tolerant world, a world that embraces everybody and everything, there is still this subjective sort of impositional, presuppositional anti‐Judaism, if not anti‐ Semitism, not necessarily racist but this anti‐Judaism mentality. Melanie Philips, a Jewish columnist for the London Daily Mail, wrote a really amazing article about the hostility within the Anglican Church toward Israel. This is some of which she said:
“The church’s hostility has nothing to do with Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians.” And she wrote this after she went to a conference [in which] Anglicans were discussing Israel and [its relationship with] the Palestinians, the current situation. This is what she wrote, “The church’s hostility has nothing to do with Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians, this was merely an excuse. The real reason for the growing antipathy was the ancient hatred of Jews rooted deep in Christian theology and now widespread once again, a doctrine,” she wrote, “going back to the early church fathers, suppressed after the Holocaust, [that] has been revised under the influence of the Middle Eastern conflict. This doctrine is called this is a Jewish writer, Replacement Theology. In essence it says that the Jews have been replaced by the Christians in God’s favor and so all God’s promises to the Jews, including the land of Israel, have been inherited by Christianity.” That is Replacement theology.
You can go to websites like Christian‐ zionism.org, and other websites and find many Anglican leaders who are pro‐ Palestinian, and think Israel has absolutely no [biblical] right to the land. Christian anti‐Judaism is strong in the U.K., very strong, much to the delight of the two million Muslims that now live there. It is interesting to find the view that the Anglican church takes concerning Israel. One writer, Colin Chapman, an Anglican who wrote Whose Promised Land? says, “Israel is responsible for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” He is supported, by the way, by such notable scholars as N.T. Wright who says, “Israel doesn’t mean an ethnic people, but it means a worldwide family.” To support his own view, Chapman says, “The Old Testament is not the inerrant Word of God, it is simply a very ethno‐centric interpretation of Israelitish history.”
Has Replacement Theology been divisive? Has Replacement Theology caused a rife in the church between God’s people and God’s Elect? It sounds like Covenant Theology has been divisive not dispensationalism.
MacArthur’s point is that Calvinists believe in unconditional election and God has elected Israel and given Israel unconditional and irrevocable promises that He must keep. Just as God will not cast off His church because of her disobedience as seen in Romans 8:28 ff neither will He cast off his elect nation because their disobedience. The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 is the primary example:
There is in [this] one passage the answer to Replacement Theology. God is not going to cast off Israel even for what they have done. And listen to this, the New Covenant was given through Jeremiah at a time when Israel’s disobedience was so severe that they were punished by God. They were under divine punishment, under divine judgment at the very time this covenant was given to them. Jeremiah is what kind of prophet? He is a weeping prophet, weeping over Israel’s judgment, the captivity. The New Covenant is not a reward for their faithfulness, it is given in spite of their unfaithfulness. God says there will be a day when I will change their hearts sovereignly and I will be their God and they shall be My people. “And they shall not teach again,”verse 34, “each man his neighbor and each man his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord, for they shall all know Me,’ the whole nation, ‘from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more.’” There is a word for this; it is salvation! This is the promise of salvation to Israel. This is the promise to them of a seed, the promise to them of a land, the promise to them of a Kingdom, the promise to them of a King, but they cannot have any of it unless it is God who saves them. And He will, and He will not change His plan anymore than He will allow the fixed order of His creation to be altered. And when that [New] Covenant comes [to Israel], He will write His Law on the inside.