Positive review of Future Israel in Mishkan

15Jan09

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul warned Gentile believers not to be arrogant toward Israel, which was becoming hardened by unbelief and was soon to experience national judgment. For the most part, the history of Gentile Christian thought has failed to heed that warning. Instead, many have dismissed Israel from having any future place in the plan of God. Oftentimes, this is done by re-conceptualizing the meaning of Israel and reinterpreting its place in the biblical text. The end result is the same; Israel has been excluded from the plan of God in any real, national sense.

Challenging this mindset, which has fixed itself in the traditions of Christian thought over twenty centuries, is the aim and purpose of Barry Horner’s book Future Israel. Of particular concern for Horner is the oftentimes strident supersessionism, or replacement theology, that characterizes much of Reformed thought, Horner’s own tradition. After setting the historical context, Horner profiles contemporary manifestations of Reformed supersessionism both in their actual claims and in their hermeneutical operations. He then counters them with biblical arguments for the future of a national Israel in the plan of God, focusing particularly, but not exclusively, on Paul’s argument in Romans 11…

Overall, Future Israel is a significant work, and this reviewer hopes that it receives the attention it deserves. Horner not only explains why Christian anti-Judaism must be challenged (as his subtitle reads), but he has in fact challenged it, and in the opinion of this reviewer, effectively so.

The significance, however, should not be limited to eschatology alone, if one considers eschatology as simply one area of theological thought – the last, coming at the end, after all other theological considerations have been finished. Actually, to see eschatology this way is, in my opinion, to misunderstand it and to impoverish theological thought generally. The significance of Horner’s work lies in its challenge to the generally held overall understanding of the story of the Bible, a challenge to the entire structure of biblical theology as it is understood by many today. Recognition that Israel has a future in the plan of God is the first step. Tracing out the ramifications for the scope and structure of that plan must follow.

Download and read the entire review here...

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