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“[Replacement Theology] does violence to the validity of the Jewish world, which has contributed richly to who we are in the 21st century,” Burge said.
But giving equal prestige to both the Jewish Covenant with Abraham and the Christian covenant would “demote Jesus,” Burge said. The solution, he said, was “Fulfillment Theology”: the idea that “in Christ the covenant of Abraham becomes what it is intended: a vehicle of redemption not only for Israel but for the entire world. “
The extension of that conclusion is that Abraham’s promise of land and blessings no longer specifically apply to the Jews, especially to the secular Jews who created modern Israel. “Clearly you cannot be broken off from the root of Abraham and still claim covenant blessing,” he said.
Burge spoke on a panel with Daniel Juster, the director of Tikkun International, an umbrella organization for Messianic Jews, a term taken by Jews who accept Jesus as messiah while continuing to uphold their Jewish identity. Juster spoke about the pain of Palestinians suffering under Israeli rule, and the pain of Jews who experienced pogroms and the Holocaust.
“How this can be solved with two people experiencing such levels of pain together in this land?” he asked. “Only Jesus and the power of His cross can overcome this. There is no other way.”
The audience clapped with approval.
Just prior to his appearance at the conference, Juster, who has previously denounced Islam as an inherently violent religion, sent an email to other Messianic Jewish organizations that gave an important nuance to his appearance at the conference. Messianic Jews, he said, need both “to acknowledge the injustices suffered by the innocent under Israeli rule and the injustices suffered under the rule of the P. A. and Hamas, the corruption, the stealing of foreign aid, and so much more.”
“If we do not acknowledge the Israeli injustices, however,” Juster said, “we will not get a hearing for the bigger issues of Israel’s election and the orientation of the Muslims to destroy Israel.”
Juster’s email, implicitly rejecting Replacement Theology, was reported on Rosh Pina, an Israel-based Messianic Jewish website.
Palestinians at the conference were buoyed by their guests. “I feel our message is reaching the world,” said Rev. Ashraf Tannous, of nearby Beit Sahour.
He said Evangelical support for Palestinians was new but noticeable – whether as teachers in local Christian schools or volunteers in the annual Palestinian olive harvest.
The conference included Canadians, French, British and other attendees – but the Americans were the most prominent and the most vocal. Burge summed up why:
“American Evangelicals live with an American exceptionalism,” he said. “America has a destiny, a theology of entitlement. Commitment to Israel is part of the American theology. And we will be blessed as a nation and church if we align ourselves to Israel.”
“The whole construct is problematic,” he said.