For several years now I’ve been receiving email updates from CUFI (Christians United for Israel), not because I’m a fan but simply to remain aware of what is coming out of this organization. Yesterday’s email was a head-scratcher.
CUFI was founded in 2006 by John Hagee, the well-known mega-church pastor in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee and his Executive Director, David Brog, are fond of attaching the “replacement theology” label to those who fail to give unconditional support to the nation of Israel. Hagee defines “replacement theology” as believing that “the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.” Accurate or not, he adds that adherents believe “God has replaced Israel with the church” (Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, 2006, pp. 72, 165).
Check out the email/infomercial CUFI sent out yesterday and see if you don’t observe a different “replacement theology,” one that assigns the role of “light unto the nations” solely to the nation of Israel and not rightfully to Jesus:
CUFI’s letter references Isaiah 49:6 as Biblical evidence that “the Jewish people” and Israel are “a light unto the nations.” (In CUFI’s language, “the Jewish people” and Israel seem to be used interchangeably, as if there are no non-Jews living in Israel.) Seven times in this letter, CUFI’s followers are told that Israel is the world’s light:
“Isaiah 49:6 tells us that the Jewish people will be a light unto the nations and a brief look at Israel’s humanitarian actions around the world prove the truth of this prophecy!” (1x); “Israel is a light unto the nations” (3x); “In order to constantly remind us that Israel is a light unto the nations…” (1x); “The new CUFI mezuzah is not only a daily reminder that Israel is still a light unto the nations…” (1x); “The torch illustrates that Israel is a light unto the nations” (1x).
I won’t deny that Israel has done some humanitarian deeds in its history. However, the role of “light to the nations” belongs to Jesus, and there was zero acknowledgement of this in CUFI’s letter. Jesus spoke this very thing concerning Himself and His disciples:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12; see also John 9:5).
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).
Isaiah 49:6 was likewise a prophecy about Jesus, His role in bringing Jacob back to His Father, and the light of His salvation for the whole world:
“And He said to me, ‘You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, and my work with my God.’ And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:3-6).
If this was about national Israel, how could Israel bring Jacob (itself) back to God? How could Israel “raise up the tribes of Jacob” and “restore the preserved ones of Israel” (itself)? This would be God’s doing, not Israel’s own doing. As I wrote in a March 2014 post (“Why I Stand With Israel“),
Albert Barnes (1834), Adam Clarke (1831), John Gill (1746), The Geneva Study Bible (1599), Jamieson/Faussett/Brown (1882), Matthew Henry (1708), The Pulpit Commentary (1880′s), and John Wesley (1754) all stand in agreement that Isaiah was speaking here of Jesus, and that Isaiah referred to Jesus as “Israel.” See their commentaries on verse 3, verse 4, verse 5, and verse 6.
CUFI’s exaltation of modern, political Israel amounts to blatant idolatry and pushing Jesus to the side, even replacing Him. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament bear witness that Jesus is the light that the world needs.
Related post: “Why I Abandoned Replacement Theology“
8 thoughts on “CUFI’s Replacement Theology (Replacing Jesus)”
I don’t think in terms of Replacement Theology. Instead, I say that what Jesus has done for us is FULFILLED Theology. It has absolutely nothing to do with a strip of land in the Middle East or a particular ethnic or cultural group. In Christ here is no distinction between any group based on ethnicity or gender. In Christ we as believers in Him are the true Israel. This is the everlasting New Covenant.
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Mark, I agree that Christ’s followers are the true Israel, that in Him there is no distinction or favoritism, and that God’s plans and purposes are not wrapped up in a strip of land or a race of people. Thank you for commenting.
Because race is such a big deal in America, I once did a Bible study on it and found the results fascinating.
Whereas we tend to divide mankind into various races, the Bible has always divided mankind into two races: God’s people and everybody else. You see this even back in Gen. 6:1-4. And what we find is that intermarriage between these two groups, these two races was forbidden and a great sin (Ezra 9:1-4, 12-15, for example). Except when it wasn’t.
Why was interracial marriage between the Jews and Gentiles considered so bad, and yet you had noticeable exceptions, such as Rahab or Ruth? Why does the Bible celebrate Boaz’s interracial marriage with Ruth, when we should expect the Bible to condemn it? It’s because Ruth adopted the God of Israel as her own God. Ruth was of the wrong race according to the flesh, but she was the RIGHT “race” according to the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. This was an epiphany – even under the Law of Moses, race was never really about race according to the flesh, but race according to the Spirit, belonging to the spiritual race of God!
Compare man’s view of race with God’s view of race:
We determine race in part based upon visible characteristics – what we look like. People of the same race tend to be similar in appearance. But God determines “race” based upon our resemblance to Christ – not in our outward appearance, but in our manner of life.
We determine race based upon our place of origin – whites come from Europe, blacks from Africa, etc. But God doesn’t care what land or continent we come from, He wants to know if we are born of Heaven, or merely belong to this world.
Race is determined by one’s genealogy, who’s one parents are. But God doesn’t care who our parents are according to the flesh, God wants to know if you are born of God, or if you’re the brood of the viper, belonging to the devil.
This is not so much true with America, but it is true with many other countries, such as Japan, China, etc. Race is in part related to your nation of origin. But God doesn’t care what nationality you are, what matters to Him is if you belong to the kingdom of God, or to the ruler of this world.
Race according to the flesh has to do with family – to whom are you related? But God’s racial family is a spiritual race consisting of many different races according to the flesh. It isn’t about your earthly family, but whether or not you are of the household of faith and have an inheritance with God.
Race is a matter of salvation – not race according to the flesh, but “race” according to the Spirit! And this isn’t something that was new with the New Covenant. This was true under the Old Covenant, and even before that. This is the way God has always looked at race and salvation, because God is Spirit and eternal – it has always been a spiritual matter with Him, and being eternal, He has not changed.
So I don’t care what you look like; if you’re being conformed to the image of Christ, you are my TRUE brothers and sisters. If you have been born again, born of water and the Spirit, then you are my TRUE family and my TRUE countrymen. And if you stand for Christ, then I stand for you and with you!
Shame on all those who would make salvation a matter of earthly race or nationality, things that are according to the flesh but not according to the Spirit of God!
Thanks for sharing your reflections on race, Steve. I agree that CUFI and others have gone astray with their emphasis on the flesh and nationality.
This letter sent out by CUFA says it all. Within the short letter the word/term Israel is used 20 times. Not once is Jesus Christ, the Only True Light of the World, mentioned once. And if i’m not mistaken, the Church is not mentioned either.
Christian Zionism is the epitome of replacement theology, for they have replaced Jesus and His Church/Body with the modern, secular, State of Israel and unregenerate (lost) Jews. They rob Jesus of His rightful Praise, Honor, and Glory, instead showering what rightfully belongs to Him alone, upon a secular Israel. My bible calls this idolatry.
Further proof of this is also their indifference to Christians and Churches who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict(s) in the middle-east, and the policy (held by many of the larger Christian Zionist organizations) which frowns upon evangelizing lost Jews.
Glad to see you’re still receiving updates from CUFI Adam. After receiving them for a number of years (without ever receiving a donation from me) they removed me from the list: I no longer get them 🙂
PJ, you’re correct. The Church is not mentioned in this letter, nor is Jesus. It was striking to me as well. For a Christian organization to consider Israel a light to the world in some way is one thing (not that I agree), but to not even acknowledge Jesus as the light of the world takes it to another level. Christian Zionism, as you said, really does so often “rob Jesus of His rightful praise, honor, and glory.”
Concerning the Church, have you ever noticed that Christian Zionists often put “the church” in quotes when mentioning it, as if the Church is illegitimate or a thorn in their side? I’ve noticed it many times, here at this blog and elsewhere. I’ve never confronted a person about it, but I’ve wanted to.
That’s wild that you were removed from CUFI’s email list. I’ve never donated either, so maybe my days on their list are numbered.
Hi Adam, yes I have noticed how many place the word Church in quotes! I’m assuming it’s because they see the Church itself as nothing more then a parenthesis: a space-filler in God’s real plan which is (really, in their theology) all about National Israel. I was amazed to find original dispensationalism considered the Cross and the Church, as God’s “plan-B”….or His back-up plan.
While not all CZ and dispensationalists may not readily admit still believing this today, I believe they still think this is true.
Aha.. amen. Your days may indeed be numbered as far as being on CUFI’s email list. 🙂
I was on it for years, receiving frequent emails, updates, etc, when without notice they stopped sending them out to me. Like you, i had signed up in order to stay on top of what the organization was doing. I was glad to see you were still receiving them.
When you recognize that, to the Lord, the peoples of Judah and Israel, the prophets, and the historians of the Old Covenant, Judah and Israel were distinct nations, houses, and peoples, then you can see that the Jews were, actually, the first Replacement Theologians.
Is 48:1 “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, Who are called by the name of Israel, And from the waters of Judah came out, Who are swearing by the name of Jehovah, And of the God of Israel make mention, Not in truth nor in righteousness.”
The rest of the passage shows how committed the Jews are to pretending to be committed to the God of Israel while, actually, keeping their trust in graven and molted images. That’s why one of the commandments of Apostle Paul was to cast them out of our fellowship.
Gal 4:22-28 “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”