The Catholic Church is the Kingdom of Israel
What if I told you that much of Protestant Christianity today is currently in the midst of an identity crisis? I say “much of” because not all Protestants fall into this. There are still a few left who actually know who they are, but sadly, most Protestants today, particularly those living in the Bible Belt, have absolutely no clue. They’re living in a state of spiritual amnesia, brought about by the errors of Evangelical preacher John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) and his study notes, found in the margins of the Scofield Reference Bible, published by Cyrus I. Scofield (1843-1921). The ecclesiology and eschatology of Darby and Scofield are wrapped up together in a common Evangelical teaching called Dispensationalism. We could go into great lengths trying to describe it here, but I’ll save that for another essay. Probably the best way we could summarise Dispensationalism is to say that it teaches both “rapture and rupture.”
By this I mean Dispensationalism is where we get the unbiblical teaching that Jesus returns to fetch his Church years before the end of the world in what is commonly known as the “rapture,” and this is compounded by a complete perversion of the nature of Christianity, placing a “rupture” between the Church and the Kingdom of Israel. Specifically, it teaches that the Kingdom of Israel is one thing, pertaining only to the Jewish people. While as the Church is something completely different, pertaining to those who follow Jesus Christ. According to Dispensationalism, the Church is totally disconnected (ruptured) from the Kingdom of God, and has nothing to do with Israel.
Dispensationalism is the majority-accepted ecclesiology and eschatology in the United States of America. Most Protestants here subscribe to it in one way or another. This is not true for all Protestants, but most. In the years ahead, as Protestantism becomes more Evangelical in nature, it will also become more Dispensationalist too. It’s odd that so many Christians, who claim to follow the Bible Alone, would subscribe to an ecclesiology and eschatology that is so incredibly unbiblical.
You see, Biblical ecclesiology and eschatology are very simple. They go like this. Jesus is the King of Israel. There is no question about this. This is clearly established in all the gospel narratives. In the 1st-century AD, the reigning King Herod was illegitimate. He wasn’t even Jewish! Let alone a descendant in the line of David! Pontius Pilate was just a Roman procurator over a southern province of Jewish land called Judea. In addition to that, the Temple priesthood had been corrupted, and many of the priests serving in the Temple were actually Roman spies.
The entire religious and governmental system of 1st-century Judea had been corrupted by Roman occupation. What the Jews of that time needed more than anything was a king, a real king, from the line of David, who could unite them and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel.
It is into this environment that Jesus of Nazareth came, heir to the throne of David, and high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Again, all of this is established New Testament narrative. Jesus, of course, teaches his apostles that the type of Kingdom he would soon set up would be entirely different from what they expected. He informs them that his Kingdom is not like all the other earthly kingdoms, and his reign will never end. He will rule forever, as the King of Israel, and this ‘Israel of God’ will extend far beyond the borders of the Holy Land. His Kingdom is not about borders, language and culture. Rather, his Kingdom will reign through the hearts of men. It will transcend borders, language and culture. No one will be able to contain it.
To illustrate, the pivotal moment comes in Matthew’s gospel when Jesus issues his first royal decree as the new King of Israel…
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” -- Matthew 16:16-19 RSV-CE
Here in this passage, Jesus is acting like a King. He has spent a great deal of time talking about the Kingdom of God, now he is officially acting as the King of this Kingdom. Here he is establishing the Kingdom office of prime minister. The “keys” you see, are an Old Testament sign of authority of the Davidic Kingdom…
In that day I will call my servant Eli′akim the son of Hilki′ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. -- Isaiah 22:20-22 RSV-CE
The “keys” that Jesus gave to Peter are not literal of course. (Though in Old Testament times, they very well may have been.) Rather, they represent something. They represent an office of authority. Jesus, acting as the King of Israel, has just promised to give Simon Peter the office of prime minister in his coming Kingdom. Indeed, the Kingdom of God was already present, and at that time it subsisted entirely in Jesus Christ, but soon it would spread throughout the world, in an entity known as the Church.
Now stop and think about this. What is Jesus actually doing here? He is living in a land with a puppet “king” already — Herod — who isn’t royalty and is not even Jewish. One region of that land is governed by a Roman procurator. The Roman occupation is propped up by cooperation from the Sanhedrin and the leadership in the Jewish Temple. This system of order is 100% dependent on the subjugation of all Jews in the region. They don’t have to like it, but they do have to accept it. Yet, what did Jesus just do here? He has at length talked about HIS coming Kingdom, and now he is acting as a King. He is giving Simon Peter authority as his prime minister.
What about the Temple leadership? What about the Sanhedrin? What about Herod? What about the Roman Procurator? Has Jesus of Nazareth just committed treason? In the eyes of many he had. He’s holding himself out as the rightful King of his people. Now we know, as he will soon tell Pilate, that his Kingdom is not of this world, and is of no earthly threat to Caesar, Pilate or the Sanhedrin. But keep this in mind. By entrusting the “keys” to the Kingdom to Simon Peter, Jesus is acting as a King, and he is effectively causing those who follow him to consider defunct the reign of Caesar, Pilate and the Sanhedrin. They may rule by military might and social coercion, but their power is not of God, and only temporary. What Jesus is doing here is not actually ‘treason’ in the literal sense. But he is setting up a parallel spiritual Kingdom, that is intended to exist alongside, and eventually outlast, the civil governance of Herod, Pilate, Caesar and the Sanhedrin. He is vying for the loyalty of the Jewish commoners here, and that is why the Sanhedrin used Pilate to have him executed on the cross. He was a threat to the loyalty of the Jewish commoners, and the loyalty of the masses was something the Sanhedrin would not share.
Yet we know the story, don’t we? The Sanhedrin used Pilate to have Jesus executed, and through that execution, enthroned on the cross, King Jesus served as our High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, forgiving all our sins, becoming our Passover Lamb, and sharing his body and blood with us, under the appearance of bread and wine. In this one act, he fulfilled the Law of Moses forever, rendering the Temple sacrifices redundant and unnecessary. In this one act, he rendered the power of the Temple leadership, and the Sanhedrin, obsolete. Then three days later, he rose from the dead, proving his credentials as the Son of God. The rightful heir to the throne of David, the rightful King of Israel, not only conquered death but would now live forever. No more would the Kingdom of Israel ever need to worry about a successor to David’s throne, or tracking the bloodlines. The King is alive and reigns forever! Now, all that matters is the office of prime minister, which is not based on bloodlines, but rather on being called by the King. This is the Petrine office, the one originally given to Simon Peter, and is today known as the papacy. Yes, the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of Israel.
The Bible makes no distinction between the Kingdom of Israel and the Church. In fact, the Bible specifically says that Israel is the Church and vice versa. Now with that said, let’s look at what the Scriptures actually say about the relationship between Israel and the Church. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is NOW, not some distant future thing.
To those who would listen, Jesus said:
“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” -- Matthew 4:17
To the priests, scribes and elders of Israel, Jesus said:
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” -- Matthew 21:43
To his disciples, Jesus said:
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” -- Luke 12:32
The following are just some Scripture references that back this point. They are certainly not all the Scripture passages that can be found, but rather a good cross section of them. The Bible plainly teaches that the Church is Israel….
WHAT IS THE NEW COVENANT?
The New Covenant Is With Israel: Jeremiah 31:31-33
The New Covenant Is With The Christians: Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:6-10
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD?
Israelites Are The Children Of God: Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Isaiah 1:2,4, Isaiah 63:8, Hosea 11:1
Disobedient Israelies Are Not The Children Of God: Deuteronomy 32:5, John 8:39-44
Christians Are The Children Of God: John 1:12, John 11:52, Romans 8:14-16, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5-7, Philippians 2:15, 1 John 3:1
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
Israel Is The Kingdom Of God: Exodus 19:6, 1 Chronicles 17:14, 1 Chronicles 28:5
Disobedient Israel Is Not The Kingdom Of God: Matthew 8:11-12, Matthew 21:43
Christians Are The Kingdom Of God: Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 4:20, Colossians 1:13, Colossians 4:11, Revelation 1:6
WHO ARE THE PRIESTS OF GOD?
The Israelites Are The Priests Of God: Exodus 19:6
Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Priests Of God: 1 Samuel 2:28-30, Lamentations 4:13-16, Ezekiel 44:10-13, Hosea 4:6, Malachi 2:2-9
The Christians Are The Priests Of God: 1 Peter 2:5-9, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD?
The Israelites Are The People Of God: Exodus 6:7, Deuteronomy 27:9, 2 Samuel 7:23, Jeremiah 11:4
Disobedient Israelites Are Not The People Of God: Hosea 1:9, Jeremiah 5:10
The Christians Are The People Of God: Romans 9:25, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 4:12, Ephesians 5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:10, Titus 2:14
WHAT IS THE VINEYARD OF GOD?
Israelites Are The Vineyard Of God: Isaiah 5:3-7, Jeremiah 12:10
Christians Are The Vineyard Of God: Luke 20:16
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM?
The Israelites Are The Children Of Abraham: 2 Chronicles 20:7, Psalms 105:6, Isaiah 41:8
Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Children Of Abraham: John 8:39, Romans 9:6-7, Galatians 4:25-30
The Christians Are The Children Of Abraham: Romans 4:11-16, Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:29, Galatians 4:23-31
WHO IS THE WIFE (OR BRIDE) OF GOD?
Israel Is The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: Isaiah 54:5-6, Jeremiah 2:2, Ezekiel 16:32, Hosea 1:2
Disobedient Israelites Is Not The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: Jeremiah 3:8, Hosea 2:2
Christians Are The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:31,32
WHAT IS JERUSALEM?
Jerusalem Is the City And Mother Of Israel: Psalms 149:2, Isaiah 12:6, Isaiah 49:18-22, Isaiah 51:18, Lamentations 4:2
Jerusalem Is The City And Mother Of Christians: Galatians 4:26, Hebrews 12:22
WHO ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE?
The Israelites Are The Chosen People: Deuteronomy 7:7, Deuteronomy 10:15, Deuteronomy 14:2, Isaiah 43:20,21
Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Chosen People: Deuteronomy 31:17, 2 Kings 17:20, 2 Chronicles 25:7, Psalms 78:59, Jeremiah 6:30, Jeremiah 7:29, Jeremiah 14:10
The Christians Are The Chosen People: Colossians 3:12, 1 Peter 2:9
WHO ARE THE CIRCUMCISED?
The Israelites Are The Circumcised: Genesis 17:10, Judges 15:18
Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Circumcised: Jeremiah 9:25,26, Romans 2:25,28, Philippians 3:2
The Christians Are The Circumcised: Romans 2:29, Philippians 3:3, Colossians 2:11
WHO ARE THE JEWS?
Israelites Are Jews: Ezra 5:1, Jeremiah 34:8,9, Zechariah 8:22-23
Disobedient Israelites Are Not Jews: Romans 2:28, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9
The Christians Are Jews: Romans 2:29
WHAT IS THE OLIVE TREE?
Israel Is The Olive Tree: Jeremiah 11:16, Hosea 14:6
Christians Are The Olive Tree: Romans 11:24
WHO IS ISRAEL?
Israel is descended from Jacob: Genesis 32:38, Genesis 35:10, Exodus 3:14, Judges 20:11
Disobedient Israelites Are Not Israel: Numbers 15:30-31, Deuteronomy 18:19, Acts 3:23, Romans 9:6
The Christians Are Israel: John 11:50-52, 1 Corinthians 10:1, Gal. 6:15-16, Ephesians 2:12-19
The overwhelming theme of Scripture plainly declares that the Church is Israel and Israel is the Church, and when we consider the office of Prime Minister, it is the Catholic Church in particular. The separation between Jews and Gentiles has been torn down by Christ, and a New Covenant has been made to fulfil the Old Covenant.
Israel no longer pertains to a certain ethnic class of people living in a certain region of the world. Israel has now been extended, under the reign of her King (Jesus Christ) to include the whole world, of every race and language, making us into the Kingdom of God (the Israel of God). Under the Kingship of Jesus Christ, Israel has expanded from a tiny Roman province in the Middle East to a worldwide empire, reigning through the hearts of men in a way earthly kings and rulers can only envy.
There is no doubt about this for anyone who studies the plain teachings of the Scriptures. The Kingdom of Israel is the Catholic Church. In fact, the Greek word for ‘church’ (ecclesia) is the exact same word used to describe the ancient Kingdom of Israel in the Greek version of the Old Testament. In reading a Greek Old Testament, and the New Testament (also originally written in Greek), side-by-side, there is a seamless continuity between the Old Testament ecclesia and the New Testament ecclesia in regard to the concept of Israel and the Church. They are the same. They always have been. The only difference now is that after the atonement by Jesus Christ, Gentiles are now allowed to enter the Church (Israel) without having to become Jews first by following the ritual commandments of the Mosaic Law. Now, access to the Church (Israel) is instantaneous upon the sacrament of baptism, which comes from the Jewish tradition of mikvah — or a ceremonial bath — but has been energised by the sacramental grace of God.
Herein lies the problem with the Dispensational teaching of Darby and Scofield. It denies this fundamental truth by insisting that the Kingdom of God is separate from the Church. It makes Jesus Christ the “King of the Jews” alone, and Gentile Christians a mere afterthought. The Church becomes an “accident” if you will, brought on by the general refusal of Jewish leaders to accept Jesus Christ as their King.
It’s bizarre! Because if Jesus is the King of the Jews, then he is also the King of anyone who follows him, Jew or Gentile. If he’s the King of Gentile followers, just as much as Jewish followers, than he’s the King of this whole body of followers, regardless of who they are (ethnically or culturally). If he’s their King, then what we have here is a Kingdom. Do we not? I mean, what is a king with no kingdom? Historically speaking, the followers of Jesus Christ have always been known as the Church (ecclesia). But then, that’s also what the Old Testament Kingdom of Israel was called in the Greek Scriptures.
So the question that must be posed to every Dispensationalist is this: “Is Jesus Christ your King?” If the answer is “yes,” then they have to admit that they are part of his Kingdom. Then the next question is this: “What is Jesus’ Kingdom called?” Here, there are three correct answers. One is the Church. The second is the Kingdom of Israel. And the third is the Kingdom of God. Because they are the same.
To the Dispensationalist, this Biblical concept is an anathema. They call it “Replacement Theology,” or “Supersessionism,” and they say it smacks of anti-Semitism. In fact, some Dispensationalists even blame the Catholic Church of teaching anti-Semitism by holding to this Biblical view. Now they can call it whatever they like, but if believing what the Bible says makes one an anti-Semite, then why believe anything the Bible says at all? Of course, this is just a conditioned emotional response on their part. They’ve heard the line preached so many times, it’s only natural for them to jump to that conclusion. There is nothing anti-Semitic about believing what the Scriptures actually say concerning the relationship between Israel and the Church. The Bible doesn’t hate Jews. The Bible was written by Jews! This is especially true of the New Testament. So all of this hysteria about “Replacement Theology” and anti-Semitism is much to do about nothing.
Now, that being said, it comes time for a caveat. The Catholic Church has officially rejected all forms of Anti-Semitism as a matter of doctrine. The following paragraphs are taken from the new Catechism of the Catholic Church…
62 After the patriarchs, God formed Israel as his people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt. He established with them the covenant of Mount Sinai and, through Moses, gave them his law so that they would recognize him and serve him as the one living and true God, the provident Father and just judge, and so that they would look for the promised Saviour. 63 Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the LORD”, and “the first to hear the word of God”, the people of “elder brethren” in the faith of Abraham. 147 The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this faith. The Letter to the Hebrews proclaims its eulogy of the exemplary faith of the ancestors who “received divine approval”. Yet “God had foreseen something better for us”: the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” 597 The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence, we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pentecost. Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders. Still, less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”, a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council: . . . [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. . . [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”, will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”. 839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.” The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, “the first to hear the Word of God.” The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” 840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.
The teaching of the Catholic Church is pretty clear here. The Jews are held in high regard, as they always have, being our “elder brethren” in the faith of the God of Israel. All trace of Anti-Semitism is flatly rejected, as the Church claims that Jews cannot be collectively held responsible for the death of Christ, and I would personally add that Jews cannot be collectively held responsible for the persecution of the early Church either. The Church goes on to say that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, and this is true. Once called by God, one cannot be “uncalled.” Yet in all of this, the Church holds fast to her historical position. The Church is the fulfilment of the Kingdom of Israel which their ancestors sought. The Church looks forward to the day when “all Israel will be saved” meaning that glorious time, known only to God, when the full number of Jews will be brought into the Church following the full number of Gentiles.
The Catholic Church rejects “Duel-Covenant Theology” which holds that Christians are saved by believing in Christ, and Jews are saved by adhering to the Law of Moses. This is where the adherents of Dispensationalism get confused. While most Evangelicals do call for Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah, their system of eschatology proposes a distinction between Jews who have done this early — Hebrew Christians or Messianic Jews — and those who will do so after the rapture. They see those who have done so early as being part of the Church, and those who will do so after the rapture as being part of the Kingdom. It’s an unnecessary bifurcation that goes against Biblical teaching.
The truth is this. Jews who accept Christ are part of both the Kingdom of Israel and the Church, because they are one and the same thing. A Jew who accepts Christ simply comes into his natural and organic home — the Kingdom of Israel (a.k.a. The Catholic Church). All persons who are baptised in the name of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) have received the Catholic sacrament of baptism, which is fully recognised as valid by the Catholic Church. So every person who receives Trinitarian baptism effectively has “one foot in the door” of the Roman Catholic Church, even if he/she is not officially a member (yet).
Herein lies the rub, as a result of the heretical teaching that the Church and the Kingdom are separate, we now have strong Zionist tendencies running through American Protestantism. (Zionism is a political ideology, not a religion or ethnic class, but a political ideology that says Jews should move to the Republic of Israel in the Middle East.) But if Christianity is Israel, and the Catholic Church is the fullness of Israel, than what are we to make of the new modern Republic of Israel in the Middle East? Dispensationalists claim this proves their point. “You see!” they say, “There is a clear separation between Israel and the Church.” What they’ve done here is play right into Zionist ideology, by claiming that the existence of the Republic of Israel automatically nullifies any claim the Church has on the name Israel. They claim the existence of the Republic of Israel is proof positive that this is God’s will, and Christians must now accept that the Kingdom of Israel and the Church are two completely different and separate things.
This is an extraordinary oversimplification, and a bit ridiculous. The name ‘Israel’ is just a name. You could set aside a plot of land in the American Midwest, and call it Israel, then move a bunch of Jews there. Would that make it Biblical Israel? No. It no more makes it Biblical Israel than moving Jews back to the Middle East and calling it by the same name. Biblical Israel is a KINGDOM not a republic. So to Dispensationalists, we must ask: “If the modern Nation of Israel is the Biblical Israel, than where is the king?” To be the Biblical nation of Israel, it must have a king, who is a documented descendant of David, and it must have a functioning Temple as well as an ordained priesthood. None of these things exist. Granted, it could be possible to rebuild the Temple, and train a new generation of priests who have some ancestral linkage to the sons of Aaron, and many Dispensationalists actively support that, but Biblical Israel still needs a king!
Remember, the ancient 1st-century Jews were looking forward to a restored Kingdom of Israel, with a King, not a republic with an elected president. In fact, the modern Nation of Israel looks a lot more like ancient Rome (with a president and a senate) than ancient Israel (which was a theocratic kingdom). Honestly, if you just changed the name of the Israeli office from “President” to “Caesar” it would be a perfect match to the old Roman system, couched in American republicanism. What we have in the Middle East today is not the Biblical Kingdom of Israel, not even by a stretch. It is rather a republican form of government, based on Secularism and Western values. It has little to nothing in common with the ancient Kingdom of Israel, other than the fact that many of the Jews who live there have some level of genetic and religious connection to the Jews who lived there thousands of years ago. That’s about it.
I am, myself, of Hebrew ancestry. DNA tests show that I am genetically-speaking an Ashkenazi Jew, and we have some curious family customs that support this scientific data. Recent genetic studies indicate that Ashkenazim have unmistakable lineage to Middle Eastern DNA consistent with the type common to 1st-century Jews in the Holy Land. (Sorry, the anti-Jewish conspiracy theories are wrong. The latest DNA evidence is irrefutable.) Yet, as you can tell by this essay, I am a faithful Roman Catholic who believes the teachings of the Church, and adheres to a sacramental life. My membership in the Catholic Church (Biblical Israel) makes me a “completed Jew” as the saying goes, in the sense that my Hebrew heritage has been made complete by following my Hebrew King — Jesus Christ (or Yeshua HaMashiach) — in his Kingdom of Israel (the Catholic Church). I don’t need to move to a Middle Eastern republic to be part of Israel. I am Israel! Both genetically though my ancestors, and spiritually through my membership in the Body of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church.
There is nothing wrong with those fellow Jews who want to move back to our ancestral homeland if that is what they want to do. There are, of course, some problems with the politics surrounding this, but that is a matter I’m not going to delve into here. However, having a concentration of Jews in a certain place, even our ancestral homeland, does not make for the fulfilment of prophecy regarding the Kingdom of God. There are more Jews living in the United States than in the Nation of Israel according to Sheskin and Dashefsky, who put the number at 6.72 million in the U.S., compared to just under 6.6 million in Israel. The American number is surely much higher when you consider genetic Hebrews, like me, who do not usually self-identify as “Jews.” Does that make America Israel too? No. There are more Jews living in New York City than in Jerusalem. Does that make New York City the capital of Israel? Of course not! Concentration of Jewish population means nothing. The location of that concentration means nothing. At least, this is not the case in a Biblical sense. If some of my fellow Hebrews want to move back to our ancestral homeland, that is their business. (Why? I don’t know. Considering the level of violence in the Middle East, it seems crazy to me, but to each his own.) If some of these Jews want to call that ancestral homeland “Israel” than again, that is their business. Who am I to judge? The name has been used for a town in West Virginia too. It’s just a name. But as Christians, we should never make the terrible mistake of assuming that such things are the equivalent of the Kingdom of Israel promised in the Old Testament. They are not. The Kingdom of Israel was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, who is the King of Israel, and anyone who follows him is part of the real Kingdom of Israel in a Biblical sense — whether Jew or Gentile — regardless of genetic or cultural heritage.
It is absolutely critical that we Christians understand WHO we are! It is essential that Christians understand WHAT the Catholic Church is. The Catholic Church is Israel. Israel is the Catholic Church. Christians are modern Israelites, and modern Israelites are Christians. Call this “Replacement Theology” if you want, but I see no “replacement” at all. What I see are the promises of God to my ancestral people (the Hebrew people) fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of God delivered to us (as promised) in a way more powerful and dynamic than our forefathers could have possibly imagined. They wanted a little independent fiefdom to call their own. Instead, God gave us a global, spiritual empire that would last throughout the ages! They wanted the Gentiles to respect our religious understanding of God. Instead, he made the Gentiles adopt it! They wanted Yahweh’s name honoured in our ancestral homeland. Instead, he made it honoured throughout the world! They gave him a crown of thorns and a cross. In turn, he offered us citizenship in a global messianic Kingdom! Replacement Theology? Whatever! I call it Fulfilment Theology!
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.