Walter Kaiser, in the book The Promise-Plan of God, pointed out five different ways of relating Israel and the Church. I will highlight just four of his categories, which I will try to represent graphically:

 The Super Covenant.This was the sixteenth-century version of what today is called “covenant theology.” In its mature form, it saw Israel and the church as one and the same in the history of the human race. Using the extrabiblical terms “covenant of grace” or “covenant of redemption,” it taught that this new plan replaced the expired extrabiblical “covenant of works” presumably made with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The sign of this covenant formerly was circumcision, but now, it is (usually infant) baptism, and the “people of God,” formerly Israel, are now all believers in the church.

[1]

The Replacement Covenant. In this view, the covenant is treated as a conditional or bilateral agreement which can be rendered null and void if either side defaults. Since Israel did not keep her side of the terms of the covenant, the promises made to her were nullified and she was replaced by the believing body, which today is the church. The blessings originally made out for Israel were now to be fulfilled in the new covenant and were made out instead to be with the church.[2]

The Renewed Covenant. Following Willis J. Beecher’s 1905 Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary, this writer has focused on epangelia, the Greek word for “promise,” thus calling this proposal “Epangelicalism.” It agrees with the covenantal position that the plan of salvation in Scripture is one and that there are one “people of God.” But in that one program and one people, there are distinctions or various aspects that can be observed without making them into separate sets of people or programs.[3]

The Separate Covenant. Traditional or classic dispensationalism affirmed that Israel and the church had separate identities, promises, programs, and destinies. Thus, dispensationalism in its classic forms distinguishes between the two peoples of God (Israel and the church) and the two programs of God (the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven). It argues that Jesus came with an offer of the kingdom to Israel, but they did not accept it, so the offer of the kingdom was “postponed,” and thus Jesus was forced to go to the cross instead.[4]

 

I will represent respectively these four categories with others names, just for didactical purposes:

RELATION BETWEEN ISRAL AND THE CHURCH 3

 

What is called Overlaping View (#3) in the chart corresponds to Progressive Dispensationalism and also to Walter Kaiser’s view, called Promise-Plan theology. The Parallel View (#4) matches with the view of Classic Dispensationalism, that emphasized a dualistic view of purpose and destiny for Israel and Church.

 


Author: Leonardo Costa

 


Notes:

[1]Kaiser, W. C. J. (2008). The promise-plan of God: A biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments (29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2]Kaiser, W. C. J. (2008). The promise-plan of God: A biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments (30). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3]Kaiser, W. C. J. (2008). The promise-plan of God: A biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments (30). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4]Kaiser, W. C. J. (2008). The promise-plan of God: A biblical theology of the Old and New Testaments (31). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.