A Christian Guide to Luke by R. David Pogge

Appendix B

Replacement Theology

The Parable of the Great Banquet (Section 7.3) is probably the origin of a false doctrine called Replacement Theology. Like all effective lies, it is built around a kernel of truth; but the truth is distorted into a subtle falsehood. Replacement Theology is the false doctrine that began in the second century, and was prevalent in the Catholic Church by the fourth century. Replacement Theology is based on the false premise that when Jesus was crucified:

  1. The Gentiles replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people
  2. The pagan fertility festival, Easter, replaced the Jewish Passover
  3. Pagan Sunday replaced the Jewish Sabbath as the day of worship
  4. Grace replaced the Law of Moses

Section B.1 - Gentiles Didn't Replace Jews

It is true that Jesus used the Parable of the Great Banquet to predict that the Council at Jerusalem would replace the Sanhedrin as the governing body of God’s true church—but that is where the truth ends. Despite claims to the contrary, Paul did not advocate Replacement Theology. Paul’s teaching (which is consistent with Jesus’ teaching and Peter’s teaching) is more accurately described as Inclusion Theology.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:28]

Paul’s epistles to the newly formed Christian churches were designed to promote unity—not replacement. There wasn’t a hint that the Jews were second-class Christians. In fact, it was just the opposite. Paul was encouraging the Gentile converts by telling them that they were every bit as much God’s chosen people as the Jews were.

Section B.2 - Easter Didn't Replace Passover

Regarding the substitution of Easter for Passover, it might be true that King Solomon celebrated Easter.

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. [1 Kings 11:1-6]

King Solomon “followed Ashtoreth,” which implies he celebrated Easter around 950 BC—but just because the Bible hints that he did it should not be considered an endorsement. There is no indication in the New Testament that Jesus, the apostles, disciples, or any Jews ever celebrated Easter.

There might be some confusion because “Passover” was incorrectly translated as “Easter” in Acts 12:4 by the King James translators.

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. [Acts 12:1-4]

That makes no sense because there is no reason why Herod or the Jews would care about Easter. Furthermore, all the biblical manuscripts clearly say, “Passover,” and 56 other English translations (Including the New King James) correctly translate it.

Other than the mistranslation in Acts 12:4 of the KJV, the word “Easter” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. If the apostles has decided to celebrate the pagan fertility festival by hiding Easter eggs, and using chickens, bunnies or other fertility symbols for decoration, the Bible should have mentioned it.

Paul did not replace Passover with Easter—Emperor Constantine did.

Constantine Augustus, to the churches.

At the council [of Nicaea, 325 AD,] we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter, and it was determined by common consent that everyone, everywhere should celebrate it on one and the same day. For what can be more appropriate, or what more solemn, than that this feast from which we have received the hope of immortality, should be kept by all without variation, using the same order and a clear arrangement? And in the first place, it seemed very unworthy for us to keep this most sacred feast following the custom of the Jews, a people who have soiled their hands in a most terrible outrage, and have thus polluted their souls, and are now deservedly blind. Since we have cast aside their way of calculating the date of the festival, we can ensure that future generations can celebrate this observance at the more accurate time which we have kept from the first day of the passion until the present time. Therefore have nothing in common with that most hostile people, the Jews. We have received another way from the Savior. In our holy religion we have set before us a course which is both valid and accurate. Let us unanimously pursue this. Let us, most honored brothers, withdraw ourselves from that detestable association. It is truly most absurd for them to boast that we are incapable of rightly observing these things without their instruction. On what subject are they competent to form a correct judgment, who, after that murder of their Lord lost their senses, and are led not by any rational motive, but by an uncontrollable impulsiveness to wherever their innate fury may drive them?

[Y]ou should still be careful, both by diligence and prayer, that your pure souls should have nothing in common, or even seem to do so, with the customs of men so utterly depraved.

So first, it was desirable to change the situation so that we have nothing in common with that nation of father-killers who slew their Lord. Second, the order which is observed by all the churches of the western, southern, and northern parts, and by some also in the eastern is quite suitable. 1

Maybe it is just me, but that reasoning seems to be just a tiny bit anti-Semitic.

Section B.3 - Sunday Didn't Replace Sabbath

Paul did not replace Sabbath with Sunday. That also was done by Constantine.

The First Sunday Law of Constantine

On the Venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost--Given the 7th day of March, [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time.

Notice that the day of worship was to honor the Sun, not the Son. (The decree was written in Latin, a language in which the pun doesn’t work. The Latin word for the nearest star has no resemblance to the Latin word for a male child.)

The Catholic Church officially ratified the change 16 years later in 337AD.

Canon XXIX

Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians.  But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ. 2

There wasn’t a whole lot of love for “judaizers” in the fourth century Catholic Church.

Section B.4 - Grace Didn't Replace the Law

Despite what people would like to believe, Paul did not replace obedience to the law with grace.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. [Romans 2:12-16]

Back to Appendix A Table of Contents On to Acknowledgements

Footnotes:

1 Wisconsin Lutheran College website, http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/urkunde-26
2 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.vii.iii.xxxiv.html