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Distinguishing "replacement" from "fulfillment"[edit]

As it stands, this article defines "supersessionism" as functionally equivalent to "replacement theology or fulfillment theology." According to many theologians writing on this issue, there is a distinction here that is being ignored.

The distinction goes something like this: On the one hand, there is "replacement theology" (also "substitution theology" or "displacement theology") which theorizes that the Christian "New Covenant," once inaugurated by Jesus, has rendered the "Old Covenant" (Sinai) null (either through God's revoking it or allowing it to expire -- cf. Kendall Soulen[1]). On the other hand, there is the idea of "fulfillment," which does not render the preceding reality void.

Soulen (a Protestant Christian) writes, "The Christian notion of a fulfilled promise is frequently misunderstood (not least by Christians), so let me define the term using the words of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth: 'The promise is fulfilled does not mean: the promise comes to an end and is replaced by the actual thing promised. It means: the promise itself is now whole, complete, unambiguous, and hence already mighty.' To put it another way, a fulfilled promise is still a promise, but one that has been 'filled up' with the power of the promised future, so that the power spills over into the present. Christians believe that God's promise to Abraham -- indeed that all of God's promises -- have been 'filled up' in Jesus Christ" (p. 168). Soulen distinguishes this notion of fulfillment from replacement theology, which he equates with supersessionism: Past "Christians taught that God's covenant with the Jewish people was over, and that henceforth the church alone stood in its place. This teaching, often called supersessionsism today, became the Church's standard view on the matter, and it has prevailed among almost all branches of the Christian Church until recent times. Jews, I need hardly say, have never found the teaching of supersessionism convincing. Many Christians (including myself) now concur with them on this point" (p. 170).

Along with Soulen, Cardinal Walter Kasper (a Roman Catholic) distinguishes between the categories of "replacement" and "fulfillment". Recently[2], Kasper has written, "It also cannot be said that the covenant with Israel has been replaced by the New Covenant. The New Covenant for Christians is not the replacement (substitution), but the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. Both stand with each other in a relationship of promise or anticipation and fulfillment…[T]he New Covenant is the final reinterpretation promised by the prophets of the Old Covenant. It is the definitive yes and amen to all of God’s promises (2 Cor 1:20), but not their suspension or abolition” (p. xiv).

Now, there certainly are voices out there which argue that the distinction between the "replacement" and "fulfillment" ultimately collapses -- e.g. M. Moyaert and D. Pollefeyt,[3] who state that "In our opinion, … it does not become clear how ‘fulfillment’ can be sufficiently distinguished from replacement… fulfillment thinking remains kindred to replacement thinking" (p. 165). However, this wikipedia article equates the two as if there were some kind of theological consensus on the matter. Prominent scholarly and ecclesial voices (I've only cited Soulen and Kasper, but plenty of others exist!) ought to be reflected in an article on this complex topic. Bpeters1 (talk) 23:37, 18 November 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ R. Kendall Soulen, "Israel and the Church" in _Christianity in Jewish Terms_ (Boulder: Westview, 2000) pp. 167-174, at p. 171ff
  2. ^ "Foreword" (pp. x-xvii) to _Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today_ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011)
  3. ^ "Israel and the Church: Fulfillment Beyond Supersessionism?" in _Never Revoked_ (Leuven: Peeters, 2010) pp. 159-183

Centrality of issue of the land promise[edit]

The question of the perpetuity of the land promise is a central aspect of supersessionism. "At the heart of the controversy surrounding the nation of Israel today and the Jews in particular, the matter which most frequently awakens fervent dispute concerns...the land of Palestine."[1] The sources cited for this edit [2] reflect this, and without some reflecting a/ on the covenant of Abraham b/ on the land promise, this article's section on Protestant views (and in general) remains inchoate and vague. Cpsoper (talk) 06:20, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Please explain why the source you cited in that edit is reliable. — Confession0791 talk 06:48, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Published by an academic source, by an authority in the field, and extensively documented and referenced, the author surveys and interacts with interlocking positions in detail. A published colloquium of same opinion,[2] and it would be easy to add sources. Cpsoper (talk) 07:06, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the Protestant Views section is short and rather vague. Truth is, protestant views on this issue are varied. Presbyterians and Reformed subscribe to Covenant Theology, while Lutherans, Methodists, and Mainline denominations reject Dispensationalism. However, most Baptists and Pentecostals subscribe to a perpetual land promise and the Jewish character of a future Millennium. — Confession0791 talk 07:34, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
I note I have received a rather swift warning for 'edit warring' by Jyt, without comment here! Rather surprised at this precipitous action, and I'd be interested to see some input here on the question. The land promise issue is very much central to this question as is clear in the references. Can we have some focus on improving the page rather than simply removing referenced material of direct pertinence to the issues in hand without discussion? Cpsoper (talk) 20:41, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes you did, because you edit warred. That is what the warning is for. On the original edit, objections:
a) the source is terrible. some self-published thing, with typos even, from Horner, some obscure minister, writing about a less obscure, stark Calvinist NT scholar, William Hendriksen. Kind of secondary-ish. the second source is an excerpt from an article written in 1811. Both are published at The first source does not say anything like "the perpetuity of the land promise is a central aspect of supersessionism"; the second one doesn't itself mention the land (the intro to it - written by who knows.. does mention the land). so a badly sourced work of SYN. The second, edit-warred in version of the content and sourcing, now cites p 223 of the Horner book (ISBN 9780805446272) which i was able to read, and which discusses the centrality of the land to contemporary tensions with regard to Israel (the country) and arabs. the book in general makes no distinction between replacement theology and other forms of supercessionism. i personally kind of like where the guy is coming from, but the sources are bad and don't support the content. Jytdog (talk 22:30, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for commenting now. There are three sources. One is Horner's book,[3] it comes from an academic press, he's well known for his writings on Bunyan as well as on supersession, and is an international invited lecturer. It is his point in the quote cited, that the land promise is central to notions of supersession. The second is a British colloquium, from another academic press,[4] which among other authorities included Horner, which also examined the mechanisms and nature of supersession, and again settles on the importance of the land. The third is indeed an old thesis,[5] showing that the distinction between the Sinaitic and Abrahamic covenants, which is at the root of the question of the perpetuity of the land covenant, is old not a fruit of recent controversy, other writers, for example John Gill and John Owen could be cited to corroborate the same point. None of these are self-published , two URLS do come from one site which enables access. There is plenty of other material I have to hand to cite, along the same lines. Rather than focus on process, on which we evidently disagree, it may be better to focus on what is or isn't helpful for the page. I welcome thoughts from other editors below. The land promise is a basic and important focus, in the view of important contributors to this field, that surely deserves attention on a page like this. Cpsoper (talk) 17:53, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
FeatherPluma's edits were great, and the Manx source speaks directly to the land promise and how it is interpreted (literally or spiritual) and who inherits that promise. The RfC below is not neccessary and is in my view a waste of the community's time, and you should withdraw it. Jytdog (talk) 14:05, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
To clarify, in the immediately preceding post, the intention behind "Manx" is that you should read "Maltz" (i.e. chapter 1 of Smith 9780956200617 in the reflist here). FeatherPluma (talk) 17:01, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
yes, thx Jytdog (talk) 22:17, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
There's been a great deal of editing since the rfc was opened, and I agree it is now behind the curve. The new table is not supported by a reference and the notion of a linear spectrum it illustrates seems oversimplistic. Many older Christian writers still believed in the restoration of the Jews spiritually and to the land, yet held traditional covenant theology. Spurgeon for example ridiculed dispensationalism by writing, 'It is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement'.[6], held a traditional Puritan view of the covenant of grace and strongly anticipated (as did many if not most of the Puritans, who were usually not chiliasts [7]) a Jewish return to Israel and conversion.[8]}} I propose to reintroduce the Horner reference. Cpsoper (talk) 21:43, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
It also may be helpful for me to add some reference to Protestant theologians who identify the Church as the true Israel (thus meeting this page's introductory definition for replacement theology), who also see the obsolescence of the literal land promise as a primary axiom, to illustrate this link from an another aspect. Cpsoper (talk) 22:03, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Since an editor has now objected to Horner and the King's DS colloquium, in which he featured prominently, can we discuss why this has been reverted again without discussion? Cpsoper (talk) 22:06, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
OK - so Cpsoper just added the content ad source back again - which in my view is not acceptable. What do others here say about that content and source? Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 22:04, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Jytdog Can I first ask you please to state your own objections to these sources, they are not clear to me? Cpsoper (talk) 22:10, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
i stated my objections above. but briefly, the source is not mainstream. i would accept content based on it, but it needs to be attributed and contextualized. per the current content, the actual physical land is not at the center of the issue. it is the identity of the people who inherit "the land", and what "the land" is (the physical land, some metaphorical extension of that, etc. Jytdog (talk) 02:30, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
What would be your definition of a 'mainstream' source, Jytdog? — Confession0791 talk 07:18, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
that would be missing the point. The Maltz source is pretty straighup scholarship, giving the range of views on the topic. if you haven't read it, please do. the source you want to bring is one narrow perspective, and if you want to use it, you have to attribute it and contextualize it. Jytdog (talk) 08:16, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Horner gives a wide range of views, both supporting and against the position he advocates. He cites positions contextually and courteously. He has published from an academic press, the views are supported by 7 other writers and many other attendees in the conference cited. His views about the continuity of the land promise represent near consensus amongst Puritans, and a substantial number of early Methodists, including John and Charles Wesley, and the majority of Victorian evangelicals, judging from quotes from Ryle, Bonar, M'Cheyne, Shaftesbury, Spurgeon to name but a few - see refs and wiki page. Rejecting the addition of a well balanced and well sourced opinion is itself maintaining a POV. Should we reopen the rfc? Cpsoper (talk) 12:08, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I am saying it needs to be contextualized, that's all, and you will need a secondary source with which to do that. your description that his views represent near conensus among those groups is just the kind of contextualization that would be useful to include - what is/are your source(s) for that description? Jytdog (talk) 12:33, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for this, the wikipage section on Restorationism and the Protestant Reformation to the section on dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists linked above gives ten references, there are also many other pertinent references below. Iain Murray's work in particular on the Puritan Hope too spends 2 chapters as I recall on Israel and the Puritans, highlighting their post-millennialism. I agree Horner is advocating a position on supersession, as academics sometimes do, (his position is in fact pre-mill), and that this advocacy needs to be made clear, but he is an articulate representative of a historically substantial school of thought that the land promise is literal and perpetual. I don't see why Horner, who seems to me a reliable source for these views can't be cited directly. I shall draw together some other sources on the point in question, the conference published this position. There are other contemporary writers to add. Then there is the evidence of several writers (O Palmer Robertson, John Stott, Stephen Sizer, Robert Reymond to name but four) who advocate an allegorisation of the literal land promise and who according to the definition in the page here advocate supersession of all OT promises from Israel solely to the church - these in their own writings link the two ideas. May I propose an edit here, when I have a quiet moment, and we can discuss differences before any postings? Cpsoper (talk) 13:16, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
i am not saying you cannot cite horner directly. the content you added was "The perpetuity of the land promise, enshrined in the covenant with Abraham in Gen. 15, has been described as central to this dispute" and what I am saying is that this needs context -- by whom? when? this is clearly some specific perspective on the issue and not general. so... who? sounds like you are on it now. please do mind WP:UNDUE when fleshing this out. Jytdog (talk) 13:33, 25 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Horner, Barry (1994). Future Israel. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic. p. 223. ISBN 9780805446272. 
  2. ^ Smith, Calvin L., ed. (2013). The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. Kent: King's Divinity Press. ISBN 9780956200617. 
  3. ^ Horner, Barry (1994). Future Israel. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic. p. 223. ISBN 9780805446272. 
  4. ^ Smith, Calvin L., ed. (2013). The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. Kent: King's Divinity Press. ISBN 9780956200617. 
  5. ^ Dow, Daniel (1811). A Dissertation On The Sinaitic and Abrahamic Covenants: Shewing the Former to be only Temporary; the Latter Everlasting. (PDF). Hartford: Peter B. Gleason and Co. pp. 69‐71}. 
  6. ^ Sermon on 'Jesus Christ Immutable', Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1869, vol. 15, no. 848 [1]
  7. ^ Murray, Iain (June 1971). the Puritan Hope. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. p. 326. ISBN 9780851512471. 
  8. ^ Spurgeon, Charles (1864), "Sermon preached in June 1864 for the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews", Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 10 

RFC on pertinence of the land promise to supersession, in Protestant views[edit]

Given multiple indications of the centrality of the land covenant to supersession, I invite comment on the appropriateness of reference to this issue here. Thank you. I propose a restoration of this material [3], I acknowledge it might well be augmented. Cpsoper (talk) 21:10, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

  • oppose RfC was launched before there was sufficient talk page discussion. editor appears to be on fire; he/she first edit warred and now launched this. Wikipedia works over days, not hours. This is not social media. Please see WP:RFC instructions. Please withdraw the RfC and don't waste the community's time with this, yet. for pete's sake. Jytdog (talk) 22:32, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Cpsoper, Interval edits may have addressed this issue to some degree. A source that you proposed has been incorporated, as has another reference. The balance seems a bit better now, but you may want to modify things further. FeatherPluma (talk) 04:17, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: This doesn't seem like the kind of issue that needs system-wide RfC attention (at least not yet); as FeatherPluma says, the text under discussion has already changed, in ways that may make the question moot.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:19, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I have suspended the RFC, given these comments. Cpsoper (talk) 21:45, 21 March 2015 (UTC)


The source quoted said that in Supersessionism, the Church replaces the Israelites as God's people. It does not specify that this is as the Chosen people, as all people in the world are now chosen to be part of the church. Jews and Gentiles are now both the Chosen peoples according to Supersessionism.

I took out the phrase ((From a supersessionist's "point of view, just by continuing to exist, the Jews dissent".[1])) This is because: 1. Carroll is anti-Supersessionist and so is not a good source to define Supersessionism. 2. His claim is incorrect - Supersessionists do not consider that Jews "dissent" just by existing. After all, if Jews accepted Christianity, they would still "exist" just like Greeks and Germans do, but they would not be dissenting.

So at best Carroll's quote would have to be reworded, like saying "just by continuing to exist outside the Church, nonChristian Jews dissent." But you can't just reword a writer's words for him like that.


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Carroll50 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Rakovsky (talk) 17:51, 2 January 2016 (UTC)