Today there are approximately 100 million American church members who have very little to no understanding of Bible prophecy. These church members are from replacement theology churches that don’t teach Bible prophecy and who look at prophetic scriptures as allegorical and not literal. Consequently, they do not understand the importance of Israel to the God of Israel or God’s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations. These church members also have no understanding of the biblical significance of what is transpiring today in Israel, Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and in other Middle East nations. They are also not aware of the significance of the formation of the European Union I have shared the biblical significance of our times with some of these people and almost all of them can’t process the information mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of these people, due to fear or unbelief, do not want to hear more. Sadly, they also have no biblical point of reference in which to start if they had interest. The good news is those who understand Bible prophecy are fully aware of the significance of Israel, God’s time clock, and are watching the times with great interest and expectancy. Below is a list of the 25 largest churches in America. The churches that are highlighted in bold are confirmed replacement theology churches. We are still attempting to confirm a few of the smaller church positions. Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism). Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God’s blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years? The Church (The Replacements in bold) U.S. Membership Denominational Ranking: Largest 25 Denominations/Communions –2004 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 1. The Roman Catholic Church – 66,407,105 2. Southern Baptist Convention – 16, 427, 736 3. The United Methodist Church – 8,251,042 4. The Church of God in Christ – 5,499,875 5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 5,410,544 6. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – 5,038,006 7. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. – 5,000,000 8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. – 3,500,000 9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – 3,407,329 10. Assemblies of God – 2,687,366 11. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – 2,512,714 12. African Methodist Episcopal Church – 2,500,000 13. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America – 2,500,000 14. Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc. – 2,500,000 15. The Episcopal Church – 2,333,628 16. Churches of Christ, Corsicana, Texas – 1,500,000 17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America – 1,500,000 18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. – 1,500,000 19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. – 1,484,291 20. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – 1,430,795 21. United Church of Christ – 1,330,985 22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International – 1,200,000 23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, Joplin, Mo. – 1,071,616 24. Jehovah’s Witnesses – 1,022,397 25. Church of God, Cleveland, Tenn., – 944,857 Bill Koening Is it any wonder why most have little to no understanding of the signs of the times? 1. Israel’s role as the people of God was completed (economic supersessionism). This is the kinder and gentler way of stating the basic thesis of Replacement Theology. It says that once the Messiah came 2,000 years ago, Israel’s mission was completed. A transition occurred at that point, and the Church took over as the people of God and became the focal point for the outworking of God’s plan and purpose in redemption. God is no longer working administratively through ethnic Israel. 2. Israel’s place as the people of God was forfeited (punitive supersessionism). Other Replacement theologians are more straightforward and actually say that the supposed replacement of Israel was a divine judgment on the nation for its rejection of the Messiah in the first century. This is what some writers have called “punitive secessionism.” Perhaps Martin Luther articulated this position most eloquently when he wrote: “For such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence that they [i.e., the Jewish people] assuredly have erred and gone astray. Even a child can comprehend this. For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terrible, so unmercifully … Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God” (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 265). Common threads that weave their way through the numerous variations of supersessionism are (1) that God is finished with Israel as a nation, and (2) that the promises He made to Israel in the Old Testament have been inherited by the Church. (However, most Replacement theologians are reluctant to say that the Church - which is largely in apostasy today - has also inherited the curses and judgments that God pronounced on Israel for her apostasy.) One defender of Replacement Theology writes: “The Jewish nation no longer has a place as the special people of God; that place has been taken by the Christian community which fulfills God’s purpose for Israel” (Bruce Waltke, “Kingdom Promises as Spiritual,” in Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Testaments, Ed. John S. Feinberg [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1987] p. 275). This is how one evangelical theologian summarized the essence of supersessionism in a paper he presented at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting a few years ago: “The issue is whether national Israel as an administrative structure is still in the plan of God” (“A Future for Israel in Covenant Theology: The Untold Story” by R. Todd Mangum, Instructor in Historical and Systematic Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania [November 16, 2000], p. 20. If you’d like to know if your church leaders believe in Replacement Theology, ask them! If they are not familiar with the term, be patient because it’s entirely possible that they have never heard it before, even if they attended seminary. Also, it’s not likely that they’ve ever knowingly aligned themselves with any view that’s anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic or anti-Israel. This may all be new to them! Ask them, very humbly and sincerely, if they believe that God rejected Israel when Israel rejected His Son in the first century and that as a result, He has no future plan or purpose for the Jewish nation. They may reply that yes, of course, Jewish people can be saved and join the Church - and to them, that means God has a plan for the Jewish people. However, that’s not what we’re asking. We want to know if they believe that God is no longer dealing with the Jewish nation - and don’t be surprised if the answer, ultimately, is in the affirmative. After all, as we saw earlier, this has been the predominant view of mainstream Christianity for centuries - roughly since the time of Augustine, in fact. Sadly, this view has become normative in much of the Church, including many denominations and their seminaries. Let’s not be afraid to challenge theological tradition when it’s wrong. It’s our responsibility to proclaim and defend the premillennial hope of the Church - and the nation of Israel - in these days of widespread error and apostasy. We should encourage our premillennial Bible colleges and seminaries to take a stand on Replacement Theology and challenge them to produce graduates who are knowledgeable about the historical and theological issues Replacement Theology encompasses. There’s a lot we can do, and we should be doing all we can!