As part of the two-week Sunday evening panel discussion at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, Sundays, August 28 and September 4, I wanted to provide a web portal for where you can submit your questions to be asked of our pastoral panel. Simply go to the bottom of this blog post and find the comments section entitled, “What do you think?” Enter your question as a comment and then post it, and I will do my best to make sure your question is addressed by the panel. If your question does not get answered at the panel discussion, we will do what we can to provide you an answer after the panel discussion is over.
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To prime your thoughts in asking questions, I have uploaded the outline and questions from night one, plus a couple of sample questions below that in the post, with a few answers, just to get you thinking. Please remember: God’s Word is the “plumb line” for discerning truth:
ROMANS 9-11 OUTLINE with QUESTIONS FROM NIGHT ONE (pdf format)
Some possible questions:
Q: Are there any “real world” consequences for how we view Romans 9-11?
Romans 9-11 is rich in content and implications for the Christian life. Sometimes, people tend to look at the topics raised by parts of the Bible as being merely intellectual exercises. Such is clearly not the case with Romans 9-11. One of the main themes concerns how Christians are to think about the role of ethnic, national Israel within the plan of God. A simple glance at the news from the Middle East tells you that modern-day national Israel stands in the center of an enormous, geopolitical conflict that impacts everything from United States foreign policy to how we are to befriend our Jewish friends and neighbors. Evangelical Christians in the United States, in many ways, form the backbone of American support for modern-day national Israel.
The idea that the Bible teaches that the Jewish people will one day return to their ancient homeland in the Middle East, with their borders fully restored to what was described in the Book of Genesis, is often called “Christian Zionism.” I have been exploring the topic of Zionism this summer on the Veracity blog, and I am a little over halfway through the series, if you would like read more about it, please interact, and ask more questions.
Q: Are there any recommended book resources that will help me dig more into Romans 9-11, particularly on the topic of Israel and prophecy?
There are a ton of books written on topics addressed in Romans 9-11. I can recommend a number of the better books, that can all be obtained from Amazon, or your local bookstore. Here is a fairly brief list, aimed at the general, informed reader:
- Joel Richardson, When A Jew Rules the World. If you are looking for a popularly accessible book that advocates for a definite, future role for ethnic Israel, based partly on reading Romans 9-11, I would recommend this book, though I have some cautions. Later this week, I will post my own review of Richardson’s book here on the Veracity blog. Other writers that are sympathetic to Richardson’s basic argument for the restoration of future Israel include Mark Hitchcock (and see Gerald R. McDermott below).
- Stephen Sizer, Zion’s Christian Soldiers. Another popularly accessible book, but Sizer takes a different thesis in contrast to Richardson. Based partly on Romans 9-11, Sizer believes that the modern fascination with national Israel among evangelical Christians is based on a misinterpretation of the Bible. Sizer tends to give you one side of the story, but if someone reads something like this book, alongside Joel Richardson’s book, you will probably get a balanced picture. Other popular writers that are sympathetic to Sizer’s argument that have their own books include Gary Burge and Hank Hanegraaff (the “Bible Answer Man”).
For more academically inclined readers:
- Barry Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged. A more rigorous and scholarly presentation sympathetic to Joel Richardson’s book above. Sobering and challenging.
- John Stott, Romans. God’s Good News for the World. A great commentary on the Book of Romans. More sympathetic towards Sizer above than Richardson, on the interpretation of Romans 9-11 regarding future Israel.
- N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone. Romans, Part 2, Chapters 9-16. A great, short commentary on the latter half of Romans. More sympathetic towards Sizer above than Richardson, on the interpretation of Romans 9-11 regarding Israel.
- Editor, Gerald R. McDermott. The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land. A brand new book based on essays at a major theological conference held in 2015, sympathetic to Christian Zionism, written for scholars and non-scholars alike. If you think only Christians in dispensationalist churches believe in a literal future for ethnic, national Israel, then you should read this book. McDermott can be pretty persuasive.
- G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim. God Dwells Among Us. Not focused so much on Romans 9-11, but this gives an analysis of the theme of the Temple throughout all of Scripture. This book really helped me to understand God’s purpose for the Temple in the Bible. Read my review here on Veracity.
- Editor, Chad Brand, Perspectives on Israel and the Church: 4 Views. A one-stop shop resource on four of the most common views regarding Israel and the church. Not much focus on Romans 9-11, but plenty of perspective as to why different Christians take such different views regarding Israel. Very dense, but highly recommended.
- Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism. Written by a convert to orthodox Judaism, a scholarly treatment of perhaps the most influential early church thinker in the Western church, an intellectual history of how Saint Augustine read Romans 9-11 and applied it towards his thinking about Jews and Judaism. Great insight into why Christians are so divided today over what to think about national, ethnic Israel. I am only halfway through this book, and it is absolutely fascinating! I hope to have a review about this book posted on the Veracity blog within a few months.
September 4th, 2016 at 3:10 pm
Clarke, as someone who has invested considerable time in the study of theology, and Romans in particular, can you share your thoughts on why this material is so important to understand? Conversely, what do disciples of Jesus Christ miss when they downplay theology and doctrine? Could theology and doctrine be that important? Thanks!
September 4th, 2016 at 5:28 pm
John: That is a huge question, so let me bite it off this way, from an example from church history.
Despite whatever problems there may be with dispensationalism, and I think there are some, dispensationalism had a huge impact in creating sympathy among Christians for Israel, and Jewry in general, in the 19th century and early 20th century Great Britain. However, it made no noticeable impact in Germany.
I often wonder if Hitler’s Nazi message would have been less receptive if dispensational theology would have caught on more with the Germans. Perhaps that would have saved a lot more Jewish lives during World War Two.
Ideas have consequences.