Why I Left The Village Church

Aug 23, 2014 by

Why I Left The Village Church

My name is David Bruce and I want to first state that I am not leaving The Village Church in anger, nor do I harbor any ill feelings against the Church. (http://www.thevillageChurch.net/flower-mound/) Actually, the case is just the opposite. I wish the Church well in its ministry and I most sincerely pray that it continues to lead many souls to Christ. Leaving the Church was not a matter my wife and I took lightly. We prayed about it for approximately a year until we finally felt that God was leading us to leave. After attending the Village Church for nearly a decade, we had a lot of emotional investment in the Church. It was a huge decision and it weighed heavily on us for a long time, but as I said, in the end we truly felt that God had put it on our hearts to leave.

In the matters of God’s sovereignty and grace the Village Church has a stellar understanding of the Scriptures, and such should bode well for continuing to fulfill the Great Commission commanded of us by Jesus. Winning souls to Christ is certainly above all in the overall mission of the Church. However, I feel compelled to write this paper because I believe there is significant value in the communication of my reasons for leaving the Church. I know of a couple of other families who have left for similar reasons, and I rather doubt that my concerns constitute an anomaly.

I also want to honestly acknowledge that many Christians could care less about the issues that I am expressing concerns about. Many very sincere Christians do not care about systematic theology and are not interested in dwelling on the more complex themes present in Scripture. This paper is written expressly for the many Christians who hunger to gain an in-depth understanding of God’s Word the Bible. Such Christians will relate easily to my concerns in this paper. While some Christians are satisfied with just the basics, there are those who will never be satisfied unless they dwell deep in the Word. Paul put it best in 1 Corinthians 3:2, when he talked about moving from “milk to solid food.” Some are satisfied with “milk” (basic teaching) while others must have “solid food” (advanced teaching).

My wife and I first attended the Village Church one Sunday in July of 2004. At that time the Church was at the beginning of a decade that would bring massive growth in the Church’s membership. The Village Church had previously hired a vivacious young lead Pastor in November of 2002. This new pastor, Matt Chandler, would serve to drastically alter the direction of the Church. When Chandler was first hired, the Church had around 160 members who met at one weekly Sunday service in the Church’s original building in Highland Village Texas. As of this writing, the Village Church has well over 10,000 people attending multiple services each Sunday at Church campuses in Flower Mound, Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth Texas. In February of 2014 the Village Church announced the opening of yet another campus in Plano Texas.

Suffice to say, the Church has been blessed beyond any expectations that anyone could have had. Chandler’s extroverted nature, conversational approach, and casual style of teaching were enthusiastically received by many North Texans looking for just that kind of atmosphere. Aiding in the mass appeal of the Church surely has also been the popularity of the Church’s lead worship pastor, Michael Bleecker. Michael Bleecker is the recipient of a national Dove Award for one of his songs, and is a gifted musician and Christian lyricist. He has crafted a group of musicians and singers at the Church who are very talented and significantly add to the appeal of the Church.

When Chandler was hired as the lead pastor at the Village Church he was just 28 years old. The staff that Chandler brought with him to the Church, including Michael Bleecker, were similar in age if not even a little younger than Matt. As such, the demographics of the Church in those early days was very young. When my wife and I started attending the Church in 2004, I was 47 years old and my wife was 49. For quite a while my wife and I felt like seniors in the crowd, but that changed as the Church started to expand its membership. As time went on there began to be many more “grey heads” in the crowd.

We went to the Village Church on the recommendation of Christian friends who had recently started attending there at the time. On our first visit to the Church, Matt Chandler preached a sermon from Romans chapters 8-9. I was impressed with the sermon, and the fact that I just happened to stumble into a sermon on Romans 8-9, led me to believe I might be in the right place. Without going into a major theological discussion, Christians who dwell deep in their Bibles know that Romans 8-9 are chapters in the Bible that many pastors avoid altogether. These Bible passages are difficult teaching passages, as they deal with sovereignty of God issues in a manner that conflicts with a lot of individual’s preconceived notions of God. After that first Sunday my wife and I became regular attendees at the Village Church. We eventually took the Village Church’s Covenant Membership class and became official covenant members of the Church.

We had attended the Village Church for about five years when I started to realize that while the Church was strong in teaching in the areas of God’s grace and sovereignty, that there were other areas that seemed to be very lacking. The area of my particular concern is that of teaching on eschatology and subjects like ethnic Israel in prophecy, the tribulation, rapture of the Church, millennial reign of Christ, etc. I started to notice that these topics were not only never taught at the Church, but they were in fact avoided altogether. More importantly, I noticed that particular Bible books, chapters and/or verses were clearly being avoided to avoid teaching on any of these subjects.

The very first time that I started to question the Church’s lack of focus in this area was after a sermon that Matt gave around the middle of 2009. This particular sermon created a bit of a stir on the Church’s blog. In the sermon, Matt made a contentious comment concerning fellow evangelical Christian author Tim LeHaye when he blurted out during the sermon, “Sorry LeHaye, it’s not gonna happen, we’re not gonna get sucked off the planet!” Matt basically made a denial of the rapture of the Church in the sermon, and LeHaye being the popular author of the Left Behind series, got thrown under the proverbial bus in the process. That comment caused a lot of chatter on the Church blog and Geoff Ashley, the Church’s Theology Pastor, was forced to write a brief paper on the rapture after it. The paper I’m referring to can be found at this link: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/reconsidering-the-rapture/ (Note: The paper I’m referring to on the Church’s Web is currently available as of this writing. I’ve followed the Church’s position papers and blog keenly while attending the Church. I’ve noticed that some papers are often taken off the Web site, edited, and then reposted once again. This particular paper has been deleted and reposted in the past as I’ve searched for it and not found it, and then later did find it again.)

I honestly thought it was rather gutless of Matt to make that comment at the time. I just didn’t get the idea behind throwing a fellow evangelical pastor under the bus like that. And especially because Matt never went on to explain his beliefs regarding the Biblical teaching on the rapture. The sermon Matt was giving that day wasn’t even about eschatology, but there was a faint connection to the rapture doctrine, and I suppose Matt needed to vent some frustration as his beliefs are different from LeHaye’s. In early 2013, the Village Church’s elder board made the decision to remove all of Matt Chandler’s sermons prior to 2006 from the Church’s Web site. The reason given (and this is a direct quote from language that is currently on the Church’s Web site as of this writing) was stated as, “Because of secondary concerns regarding tone, language, and youthful angst over peripheral matters that was reflected in the sermons.” In retrospect, I figure that maybe Matt’s comment about LeHaye were just a continuation of ‘youthful angst” that still carried well into 2009.

The interesting thing about Matt’s comment about LeHaye is that Matt never clarified what it is that he believes about the doctrine of the rapture. It has never been mentioned again and neither has any other eschatological topic in any depth. After Matt made that comment in the sermon about LeHaye, I prayed with my wife on the way home in the car. I felt very heavy hearted for the Church. It seemed that we went to a dark place that day. It was after that sermon that I really started to question what the Church actually believed on the various issues related to eschatology. It was then that I realized that in my five years of attending the Church, in 2009, that I had never heard any sermons or teaching on the topic. Of course, there were also no real resources on the Church’s Web site at the time, that is except for four brief papers on eschatology in very general terms, and none took any position on any issue. At the time, I said nothing about my concern and need for information as I didn’t think anything would be forthcoming.

Later in 2009, in the early autumn of that year, Matt Chandler was finishing a sermon series on the Gospel of Luke. I was rather excited one Sunday morning, as I got ready for Church, because I knew Matt would be teaching from Luke chapter 21 that morning. Matt had taught on Luke chapter 20 the prior weekend and I had spent the entire week eagerly anticipating his sermon on Luke 21. I figured this would be the first time I would get some grasp on Matt’s interpretation of Biblical eschatology as Luke 21 contains Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. Luke 21, as most Christians know, is a dialog between Jesus and His Apostles, with the Apostles asking Him about His return and the signs of the end of the age. The same Olivet Discourse is captured by the Apostle Matthew in Matthew chapter 24. There is no way to preach on Luke 21 without delving deeply into one’s beliefs about Biblical eschatology. It is unavoidable, hence my eager anticipation for that sermon. However, when Matt opened the service that morning, he noted that we were opening the new Church campus in Dallas also that weekend, and that he didn’t want to start that campus off in the middle of an existing sermon series. As such, he said he was suspending the Luke series and would do a stand-alone series on the facets of the Christian Church to welcome the new campus. I was really disappointed at that news. Matt did make the comment that morning that he would pick Luke back up at some point and said, “Don’t worry; you’ll get your last couple of Luke’s!” Well, five years later Matt has still never finished Luke, and has never preached on Luke 21, or preached on anything related to the Olivet Discourse. I wanted to inquire at the time why the Church was clearly avoiding any teaching on such topics, but I procrastinated, likely out of fear of getting into a difficult debate. Then, later in 2009 on Thanksgiving Day, Matt Chandler suffered a seizure and was subsequently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

I dropped the whole issue of the Church not teaching about eschatology, and related issues, as the Church went through a very difficult period dealing with Matt Chandler’s diagnosis and treatment of his brain tumor. It was a very tenuous time for the Church. People met for prayer for Matt and looked forward to any Church communication on the issue. Around the end of 2009, one of Matt’s major spiritual mentors, Pastor and popular Christian Author John Piper, formerly lead Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, came to the Village Church one Sunday to preach a sermon and provide some reassurance to the Church.

I held my concerns about the Church’s lack of teaching on various issues in the back of my mind for some time. Then, at a Christmas service in 2010 I heard a comment made that I had to have clarified. During that Christmas service Michael Bleecker, lead Worship Pastor, provided some commentary prior to performing the song “Emmanuel.” Bleecker introduced the song as a song about, “Jesus coming to rescue the Church, the true Israel.” That comment made me really sit up and take notice. Of course, the song lyrics don’t mention the Church at all. The song clearly says, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee O Israel.” Israel is mentioned five times in the song. The Church of course is not mentioned even once.

I sent an email to Geoff Ashley, the Church’s Theology Pastor at the time, immediately after that service. Ashley effectively talked around the entire issue, but said he trusted Michael with Church doctrine. I couldn’t get any clear definitive explanation as to what anyone thought about Israel in prophecy or eschatology at the time. I did talk to Geoff about the fact that eschatology had never been taught on at the Church. His only response to me was to, “watch and see what happens.” To be clear I like Geoff as a person a lot, as he’s a very affable and knowledgeable man, but he truly just put me off at that time.

In the past few years I’ve had a number of conversations with a few of the pastor’s at the Village Church. I’ve exchanged emails, met one pastor for coffee, another for breakfast, and engaged yet others in conversations at the Church office itself. However, the whole process of my trying to ascertain what the Church’s position is on various issues really accelerated when the Village did its first Church-wide covenant membership renewal process in 2012. During that process, there was a question on the Web form used for membership renewal that asked if I thought the Church had been remiss in any area. I respectfully remarked that it was my opinion that the Church technically didn’t teach on the whole of Scripture. Specifically, I noted that in my eight plus years of attending the Village (it had been over eight years by that time) that I had never heard one sermon on eschatology, prophecy, end times, Israel, rapture, millennial reign, etc. It was a very brief comment that I made, but needless to say it got a lot of attention. For resolution to my comment, I got passed around through two pastors who were quite defensive regarding the comment I had made, and I finally ended with Geoff Ashley for resolution. As I had already communicated with Geoff on this issue, as I’ve stated on just a few occasions in the prior few years, I had some history with Geoff and that did help in pursuing the matter further.

I had breakfast with Geoff one morning in January 2013 and Geoff admitted that the Church has been deficient in that area. It was hard to not admit that as Matt Chandler’s book, “The Explicit Gospel” had been released in 2012 and in chapter eight, titled “Consummation,” Matt outright admits that he had never given one sermon on eschatology in his entire ministry. He states two reasons for such in his book that I find rather peculiar. The first reason is that Matt says people get “weird” over eschatology, and the second reason is that the Bible, “Is simply confusing on the subject.” The former reason I simply think is a weak excuse and the latter I reject altogether. I think there are some areas that can be debated, but I think saying the Bible is confusing in a large way opens a huge can of worms. Keep in mind there are over 300 prophecies on the first advent and over 900 regarding the Second Advent. If the Bible is confusing on the Second Advent it is confusing on something it emphasizes significantly more than the first coming of Christ. That’s a huge problem for me to buy Matt’s argument regarding Biblical eschatology.

However, I don’t think any of those reasons are the real reasons Matt Chandler has avoided eschatology altogether. And he has intentionally avoided it for sure. That point was debated with me repeatedly by Village Church pastors until Matt’s book came out. It’s essentially impossible to preach at a Church for twelve years, and not touch on end time’s prophecy unless you are going out of your way to avoid it. The real reason is that the pastoral group at the Village Church is very convicted about what they believe in regard to eschatology, the millennium, tribulation, rapture, Israel, etc., but they know that especially in North Texas, there will be a huge debate if they go public with it. I think the Village Church foresees a significant public relations issue if they go public with their beliefs on such Bible themes. Especially in the age of social media, I believe the Church really does not want to take a stand for what they actually believe.

As I stated earlier, Pastor and popular Christian Author John Piper, formerly of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has been a major mentor to Matt Chandler in his spiritual growth and development. I even remember once in late 2004 when Matt spoke in a sermon at the Church about his first opportunity to meet Piper in person. He had made that meeting a photo opportunity and proudly showed the picture of Piper and him on the video screen at the Church. Matt was as excited as any kid meeting a life-long hero and made that known by his exuberance over his getting a picture with Piper. For anyone who has been at the Village Church for any time at all, you will easily notice the influence that John Piper has had on the teaching at the Church. There are constant references to John Piper quotes in Sunday sermons, constant references to John Piper sermons, and recommendations of all John Piper books. I’ve spent a lot of time at the Village Church, and the theology subscribed to in every area is basically John Piper plus fifteen seconds. There is no doubt that is especially true on the topic of eschatology and especially Israel. Piper is, however, willing to “put it out there” and engage in the debate that follows, while Chandler is obviously not. It’s also clear that other Village Church pastors are under orders to “keep the lid” on teaching on such topics. That is all at least my opinion and impression from the extended period of time I have attend the Village Church, and from my interaction with the pastoral staff.

One thing I want to stop and state at this point, is that just as I am in full agreement with the Village Church’s teaching on grace, sovereignty and doctrine of soteriology, I also find John Piper to be a credible resource on these topics. Piper has written a number of great works on these Biblical issues and he is a reliable resource on them. It is strictly the issues around eschatology and Israel where I have sharp disagreements with Piper.

I have no problem disagreeing with people and debating Biblical topics. I understand that there will always be disagreements on certain issues aside from the core Biblical truths related to the doctrine of soteriology. Eschatology is a huge topic, but other pastors at other Churches still teach on it regularly. Pastor John Piper does not subscribe to many widely held beliefs about Biblical eschatology. For instance, Piper does not believe in an actual rapture of the Church. Piper also believes that the Church will have to endure the coming tribulation period, and as such he emphasizes a strong hope in the resurrection. I would have no problem agreeing to disagree on those issues and others. The issue I draw the line on, and the, “hill I die on,” so to speak, is Israel. Specifically, I cannot agree to disagree on the Bible teaching about ethnic Israel’s role in the last days. I understand that in our current time the focus is on the Church, but God is not done with His chosen nation of Israel. Specific promises and plans are reserved for Israel in the last days. The Bible is very clear on that teaching. John Piper believes in a form of replacement theology as does the pastoral group at the Village Church. Piper has a little bit of a different twist on classic replacement theology, that I will elaborate on further, but he is still a replacement theology advocate. Replacement theology basically says that the Church has replaced ethnic Israel as the chosen nation of God and all of God’s promises to Israel, even the everlasting promises regarding Israel as a nation and regarding the “Land” are now transferred to the Church. Replacement theology basically says that God has washed His hands of the covenants He made with Israel. I’ll stop and make a technical point here that I will clarify later in this paper. John Piper and the Village Church pastoral group do not subscribe to classic replacement theology as it is known, but an iteration of replacement theology called “Covenant Theology,” and/or, “New Covenant Theology.” I will explain these terms later in this paper. The technical effect of replacement theology and covenant theology is the same, but, there are some differences in the description of each theology, that I will clarify later.

While they will never publicly admit it, I believe the pastoral group at the Village Church is very convicted about what they believe regarding Israel in the last days. To sum it up, they are once again, John Piper plus fifteen seconds. The Village sees no reason for Israel to even exist as a political entity to fulfill Biblical Prophecy. Geoff Ashley (Geoff was the Theology Pastor at The Village Church when I had numerous discussions on this matter) used an equation with me and it is simply this: Israel = Jesus. Meaning that Jesus is the culmination of all of the Old Testament prophecies and that eliminates the need for a political ethnic Israel. While Geoff admits that the covenants God made with Abraham regarding the “Land” and “Nation,” were “everlasting,” per Geoff those covenants were nullified by Israel not keeping their end of the bargain (existing in disobedience to God and rejecting Christ), and more so that Jesus is the fulfillment of those covenants. So the Church as heirs in Christ actually inherits those covenants. That means that Gentile Christians who have accepted Jesus now have the right to claim the Land of Israel more than any ethnic non-believing Jew. Paul’s words in Romans 11, per Piper and the Village Church, simply mean that Jews are free to accept Christ just as Gentiles are and by that they can be grafted back into the same tree they were cut out of. The problem with all of that, is that eschatological Bible verses specific to Israel, pose obstacles to being able to validate the Village’s position. For instance, I asked Geoff Ashley who the 144,000 were in Revelation. Geoff’s answer was, “I don’t know and have no opinion on that.” That’s just avoiding the obvious – they are Jews! Also, the Old Testament clearly refers to the coming tribulation period as the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jacob is in no way a reference for the Church. “Jacob” is an often used Old Testament reference to the nation of Israel.

I could really go on and on in defense of this debate, but possibly this quote says it best:
“I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough about it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. You cannot read the Bible without seeing clearly that there is to be an actual restoration of the Children of Israel. For when the Jews are restored, the fullness of the Gentiles shall be gathered in; and as soon as they return, then Jesus will come upon Mount Zion.” – The British “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (1834-1892) – from a sermon in 1860. Keep in mind that Spurgeon wrote those words nearly 100 years before Israel was repatriated as a nation in 1948 just as the Bible predicted.

The type of debate the Village Church is trying to avoid is presented well by the following articles you can read on-line. The first is an article that ran in Christianity Today magazine on June 20, 2012. The article is a two-part debate between John Piper and David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus. The debate between Piper and Brickner is concerning Israel’s right to the “Land” given them in the Abrahamic covenant.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/juneweb-only/john-piper-david-brickner-israel.html

Here are links below to another two-part article by Pastor Tom Bradford at www.torahclass.com In these articles, Pastor Bradford provides an excellent response to John Piper’s very un-Biblical sermon from March 2004 titled, “Israel, Palestine and the Middle East,” which can be found here. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/israel-palestine-and-the-middle-east In his sermon, John Piper provides “seven truths” for consideration regarding the sermon’s subject matter. Pastor Bradford takes each of John Piper’s “seven truths,” one by one, and shows how John Piper is tragically misinformed on Scriptural teachings regarding Israel and the covenants made with Abraham, and Israel’s role in Biblical eschatology. Sadly, Bradford’s analysis reflects that John Piper is truly a false teacher on such matters. The Pastors at The Village Church clearly conquer wholly with Piper’s viewpoints as expressed in his sermon.

PART ONE:
http://search.blossom.com/a.php?x=1cexhx2eddx687474703a2f2f7777772e746f726168636c6173732e636f6d2f61726368697665642d61727469636c65732f3836302d612d726573706f6e73652d746f2d6a6f686e2d7069706572732d61727469636c652d62792d72616262692d6261727563683f746d706c3d636f6d706f6e656e74267072696e743d3126706167653dx7069706572

PART TWO:
http://search.blossom.com/a.php?x=1cexhx3125x687474703a2f2f7777772e746f726168636c6173732e636f6d2f61726368697665642d61727469636c65732f3836352d612d726573706f6e73652d746f2d6a6f686e2d7069706572732d61727469636c652d706172742d322d62792d72616262692d6261727563683f746d706c3d636f6d706f6e656e74267072696e743d3126706167653dx7069706572

This next article is a discussion of John Piper’s form of replacement theology by an individual who attended Bethlehem Baptist Church when Piper was the lead Pastor there. In this article the author discusses Piper’s widely talked about “fix my car” comment regarding Israel. Anyone can understand what Piper is saying, that we can find Jesus anywhere, that we don’t have to visit Israel to encounter Him, but regardless the comment by Piper came off as very demeaning to Israel. Piper made the comment that he has no desire to visit Israel, and if his car was broken down and someone offered to give him a trip to Israel, or fix his car, that he would say, “fix my car!”
http://www.h4cblog.com/john-piper-and-replacement-theology

There are numerous other articles on-line regarding John Piper and his form of replacement theology and his views of Biblical eschatology. Just Google the various topics and you’ll be very busy reading the articles.

Here’s another example of an individual who had a very similar experience to what I experienced at the Village Church. In this blog article http://messiahconnection.wordpress.com/tag/replacement-theology/ a man who obviously attends (or attended previously – I don’t know this person) the Village Church picks up on a comment that Village Pastor Josh Patterson made in a sermon in April of 2010 and he asked for clarification regarding the comment. This is, as I’ve related, something I have obviously done numerous times in the past ten years at the Village Church. The comment that Pastor Patterson made in his sermon on John chapter 15, the Parable of the Vine, was one that I would have picked up on too, as it clearly conveyed a pro replacement theology type comment. What Pastor Patterson said that got this man’s attention was this: “Jesus has come to replace what was (Israel as the vine) and no longer is Israel God’s planting, but Jesus is God’s planting.” That comment would have really got my attention too as that is exactly what I have been told at the Village in the past, hence my use of the equation above that was told to me by Geoff Ashley that says this: Israel = Jesus. When I read Pastor Patterson’s comment from the sermon in this blog article, my first thought was that the Village Church pastoral group is very much in sync in how they believe in regard to Israel’s future role in Biblical eschatology.

Note in the article that Pastor Patterson’s response to this man’s question included the following statement: “I do not think that God is done with ethnic/historic Israel. I do not believe she is an abandoned nation.” I was initially told the exact same thing on a couple of occasions when asking similar questions of Village Church pastors regarding Israel and replacement theology. The problem with Pastor Patterson’s answer is that it can really mean a number of different things. Does the Pastor mean by his statement that he is a Christian Zionist supporter of Israel’s divine right to the “Land,” and that the Bible clearly prophesies that the Nation of Israel will be repatriated in their ancestral homeland right before the second coming of Christ? Does the Pastor further believe that the coming tribulation is the time that God will use to finally reconcile His chosen nation of Israel to Him, and that numerous prophecies have been fulfilled to bring about the restoration of the Jews to the “Land” in our contemporary time? I can tell you conclusively from my discussions with Village Church pastors, who have made that same statement to me, that they mean none of that. When I initially had someone say the same thing to me that Pastor Patterson says to this blogger, I initially took it to mean that the Village Church was a strong supporter of Israel. It took a while for me to figure it out, but I eventually came to realize that what Pastor Patterson means, and other pastors at the Village Church by that statement, is simply as I have already related that God has not precluded Jews from being saved, and that they have the opportunity to accept Jesus like any gentile, and thereby be grafted back into the same tree they were cut out of. It’s nothing more than that, and the ramifications of the Village Church pastoral group’s theology regarding Israel, effectively means that it wouldn’t matter from a Biblical eschatological perspective if all the Jews on the planet disappeared.

Pastor Patterson makes the statement in the blog article that, “He wasn’t meaning to be anti-Semitic in any manner,” but, that is exactly what he is doing. I know that sounds harsh, but consider this, in the Christianity Today article I provided the link for above, John Piper starts off by saying that he, “Loves the Jewish people.” But, Piper’s entire argument in the article is that the Jewish people have no divine right to live in the Land God promised to Abraham for all generations to come (i.e., for everlasting). If you take away Israel’s divine right to the Land, then they are just occupiers or squatters as the Arab world calls them, and by that you are effectively loading ammunition in the guns of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc. Pastor Patterson, by his analysis of John 15, in saying that “Israel is no longer God’s planting” is saying exactly what Piper is saying, and Pastor Patterson is also concurring with other Village Church pastors. Patterson is saying the same thing Geoff Ashley said to me above that in essence Israel = Jesus, thereby transferring the Abrahamic covenants to Jesus, and then to gentile and Jewish believers in Jesus. And, it explains why Worship Pastor Michael Bleecker would interpret the song Emmanuel to be talking about the church, and not ethnic Israel, even though the church is never mentioned in the song. All of the foregoing approaches to Israel, effectively eliminates any need for a political/ethnic Israel to exist, in order to fulfill Biblical eschatology. Every one of these pastors is clearly advocating replacement theology and/or covenant theology.

I would ask people like John Piper and the Village Church pastoral group, “Then why is Israel in the Land today?” Is it mere luck that after nearly 2,000 years, the Jews have been repatriated in their ancestral home land? Is it destiny? Is it random chance? Of course, it’s none of those because God is sovereign and nothing like the miraculous replanting of the Jews in the Land could have happened any other way than God orchestrating it. The fact is that numerous Bible prophecies were fulfilled via the repatriation of the Jews in their native Land. Reference such Scriptures as: Jeremiah 31:35-36, Ezekiel chapters 36-37, Ezekiel 20:34, Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 66:8, Ezekiel 45:12, Hosea 3:4-5, Isaiah 35:1-2, Luke 21, Matthew 24 and countless others. If Israel has no divine right to the Land, then why did God bring them back to the Land exactly as He said He would? If political and ethnic Israel were superseded by Jesus and the Church then why were these Scriptures fulfilled as God prophesied they would be when the Jews were repatriated in their land? I think it’s very hard to argue that ethnic Israel as a political entity does not have a huge role to play in Biblical eschatology, especially when you consider all of the Biblical facts in light of what has actually happened to restore the Jews to their Land.

One thing worth noting is that in blog articles and on their resources page on their Web site, the Village Church consistently refers members and readers on such issues to Christian authors like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and J I Packer. Each of those authors could have made the same comment Pastor Patterson made in his response to the blogger’s question, and they are all very much avid replacement theology adherents (or as it’s also known, “Covenant Theology” or “New Covenant Theology”). That alone should make it obvious which way the Village Church leans on this issue.

I need to now explain the technical issue with regard to usage of the terms replacement theology, covenant theology, and/or new covenant theology. I’m sure if you asked a pastor at the Village Church if they believed in replacement theology (i.e., that the Church has replaced Israel) that they would answer with an emphatic – No! That is because they believe in covenant theology because it takes a little bit of a different spin on classic replacement theology. What covenant theology says is that the Church didn’t replace Israel because there was nothing really to replace. Covenant theology (sometimes called “New Covenant Theology”) teaches that Israel never really was the “chosen” nation and the real “covenant,” so to speak, was always with the Church through the promise of Jesus Christ. Covenant theology adherents point to the promise of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 which says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” In this verse, which pre-dates the Abrahamic covenants, God talks to Satan the devil and we see the first promise of the Messiah Jesus, who will “bruise the head” of the devil. As such, covenant theology says that God’s original plan all along was for the church, not Israel, and the church wouldn’t ever need to replace Israel, because Israel never really had the “chosen” status to begin with. If you follow through with this understanding of covenant theology, you can easily see why Pastor Patterson would make his comments about, “Israel no longer being God’s planting and Jesus being God’s planting.” And it also follows very well with what Geoff Ashley told me with regard to the equation Israel = Jesus. The Village Church very much subscribes to covenant theology as does Pastor and Christian author John Piper.

Pastor Patterson, after his initial response to this blogger, then goes on to do exactly what has been done to me by others in the past. He found a way to make the issue outright confusing to the degree that no one would ever have a clue as to what the consensus is at the Village Church, regarding Israel and replacement theology and/or covenant theology. He makes the following statements:

“I mentioned above that the idea of replacement theology is better understood on a continuum. There is an aspect of continuity and discontinuity in God’s redemptive history. At one extreme of this teaching Jesus has completely replaced Israel and God is done with her (all discontinuity, no continuity). At the other extreme Jesus is simply showing how Israel should live out the law (all continuity and no discontinuity). Both extremes are dangerous. If you personally understand the scriptures to teach that it is all continuity and no discontinuity, then I believe you are off in your understanding of scripture. I don’t want to presume this on you, but I am curious where you would land on this. Again, there is real danger on either extreme and the pull can be subtle.”

Why not just answer the question? Why put it in the above context that really makes no definitive position on anything and is very much open to interpretation. So, above we have another example of exactly what I have experienced. Broad statements that can be interpreted in numerous ways that make no real position statement on anything, followed by just enough verbiage to confuse the issue.

I just don’t understand why a Bible teaching Christian Church would avoid teaching on something if they are really convicted as to their belief. And why maneuver people around the issue so they don’t catch on to where your belief really stands? In the first few years that I attended the Village Church, I often would have a pastor say that the Church was young and that they hadn’t had enough time to, “flesh this stuff out.” But the Church has been around too long now to use that excuse, and many of the pastors have been in ministry much longer than their time at the Village. When you really get to talk to people (pastors) they are very convicted as to what they believe, and they clearly also surround themselves with people who believe likewise. It is clear that the Village Church leadership is in harmony on the issue of Israel and eschatology. If I could make one recommendation to them, it would just be that any Church should be honest with its members. Either tell people what you believe, or outright just say that you don’t teach on certain Biblical subjects and specific Bible texts. I think honesty is always the best policy.

STOP!!! I want to stop here and address a specific criticism that I believe people will raise because of my emphasis on the heresy of covenant/replacement theology. What I expect many people to say is that such topics as Israel in prophecy are peripheral in nature, and that they take a back seat to core Christian teachings such as salvation, the trinity, inerrancy of Scripture, etc. My argument to confront that criticism is that God’s interaction with Israel has a huge impact for us today as believers in Jesus. I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t discuss why this issue of Israel in prophecy IS NOT in fact, as many would call, an open-hand item. In fact, it relates directly to one’s confidence in their salvation through Jesus. If you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, as The Village Church does, that is, the belief that Israel has been replaced by the Church, or that Israel was never the “chosen nation” at all and the focus was really always on the Church, then you MUST regard God as a covenant breaker. There is no other choice. The covenants that God made to Abraham regarding the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel were in fact unilateral covenants. They were not bilateral covenants in that God’s covenants were contingent on the Jew’s works. In each case the Lord said, “I WILL give you this Land for all generations to come, I WILL give it to you for everlasting, I WILL give it to you for as long as there are stars in the sky,” etc. With regard to the Nation of Israel it was the same, the Lord said, “I WILL make you a great nation, and, I WILL bless you and make your name great, and in you all the families of the Earth will be blessed.” People who believe in covenant/replacement theology, such as the pastoral group at The Village Church, try to say that God didn’t walk away from those covenants to Israel, but that God is not required to honor those covenants as Israel is existing in unbelief. In my opinion, that is a really bad argument, and it infers that God could in fact walk away from believers in Jesus under the New Covenant under grace, if we were to ever stumble in our faith. Such a stance does real damage to Jesus’ teaching regarding the prodigal son. If God could walk away from Israel, and not honor His covenants, then He can walk away from any of us. In essence, if you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, you should also not believe in any permanence of salvation, however, The Village Church does teach the “once saved always saved” belief. That is a dichotomy, if on the other hand you believe that God has the ability to walk away from a covenant that He has made conditioned only on His promise. Of course, I personally do believe in the permanence of salvation. I don’t believe we can slip through Jesus’ fingers as we are Jesus’ fingers. We are grafted into Him. And, I also believe that God will honor his permanent covenants to Israel, and in the last days He will reconcile that nation to Him, as Paul discusses in Romans 11.

One interesting observation regarding why the Village Church does not teach on the topic of eschatology can be gained from reading a blog post by Village Church Pastor Brandon Barker. You can find this particular blog post at this link: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/should-we-study-eschatology/ If you read this article by Pastor Barker you will find that he does an interesting and very revealing analysis of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse.” Barker draws the reader’s attention to Matthew 24:3 where the apostles ask Jesus, “What will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?” Pastor Barker takes particular note that the apostles asked Jesus for the “sign” of His return, and not the “signs” of His return. Barker then goes on to say that Jesus spoke of, “wars, famines, earthquakes, apostasy, false prophets, and a great tribulation, but He never says these are a sign.” Note that Barker in this article is drawing a strict interpretation from Matthew 24 that there can only be ONE sign of Jesus’ return, because the apostles asked for a singular sign and not signs in the plural sense. Barker goes on to state that the answer to the apostles’ question is found later in Matthew 24:30, which says, “Then will appear in heaven THE SIGN of the Son of Man and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Barker concludes by noting that the “sign” the apostles were looking for, so they would recognize Jesus return, is actually Jesus Himself.

This interpretation by Pastor Barker of Matthew 24, Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, is likely very peculiar to a lot of people who know and study their Bibles. Barker’s view is not a widely held view and he is actually writing from what is known in theology circles as a “preterist” position. Preterism means “that which has already happened.” People who subscribe to preterism believe that literally all of Biblical prophecy has been fulfilled. Such would actually be labeled “full” preterism if it included the belief that Jesus’ return had already occurred. Taking the position that Jesus has already returned is just not logical, and Pastor Barker is not implying that, so his interpretation of Matthew 24 would correctly be labeled a “partial” preterist view. What Pastor Barker is inferring in his analysis of Matthew 24, is that all of the things Jesus mentions are not signs of things to come, but rather just things that have already happened throughout history, and that there would be nothing of particular interest that would happen to give us an indication that Jesus’ return was imminent. That is why I am labeling Pastor Barker’s analysis of Matthew 24 as a partial preterist position.

What Pastor Barker is saying in his analysis of Matthew 24 is that there are no signs to look for in regard to knowing Jesus’ return. That’s why he is saying that there is only one “sign” of Jesus’ return, which would be when people actually see Jesus. As I have stated, this is a peculiar interpretation of Matthew 24. It would place believers in Jesus literally in the dark with regard to His return. That is in direct conflict with Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8, where he says, “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

Yes, the apostles asked Jesus for a “sign” of His return, and He in turn gave them numerous “signs” for believers to look for to know that His return was imminent. Jesus was in no way limited to providing only one sign of His return, simply because the apostles asked for only one sign. That is why Jesus says later in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:33, “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” Note, Jesus referred to “all of these things” which would be an indicator of His return. Jesus clearly wanted us to know the season of His return. We don’t know the actual day or hour, as only God the Father knows of that, but as Paul said we are not to, “be in darkness.” Jesus had a very important reason for our knowing the season of His return and it is revealed by the Apostle Luke. Luke also provides us with a narrative of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and he records Jesus’ words as follows in Luke 21:28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” We are to know that our redemption is near when, once again, we see “all these things.” Jesus the Groom wants us to know that we as His Bride will be redeemed or rescued, just prior to the beginning of the great tribulation, when His wrath is poured out on mankind as recorded in Revelation 6-19.

Brandon Barker’s explanation is another reason why the Village Church will not teach on eschatology in general, and if you remember, I noted previously that Matt Chandler in the past avoided preaching on Luke 21, Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. The preterist position is peculiar and not widely held as it just can’t be justified by Scripture. When I first read this article by Pastor Barker on the Village Church’s Web site, I emailed Geoff Ashley at the Church to get clarification on its meaning and intent. Geoff concurred with the teaching in the article on Matthew 24, and that there really are no signs to look for to ascertain the nearness of Jesus’ return. In fact, Geoff made this specific comment to me, “We don’t see anything happening in the world right now, including the repatriation of Israel to the Land, which would indicate to us that we are any closer to Christ’s return today, than we have been at any time in the past 2,000 years of Church history.”

A good reference material on replacement theology (or covenant theology) is the booklet “Broken Branches – Has The Church Replaced Israel” by Zola Levitt. http://levitt.com

The following is an article from a couple who had a long experience with the Village Church and left for the exact same reasons I am discussing. This couple left the Village Church to attend Baruch Hashem, a Messianic congregation in suburban Dallas Texas. http://messiahconnection.wordpress.com/category/sermon-sessions/baruch-hashem-messianic-synagogue/

For additional information on Israel in prophecy I would refer you to a couple of articles on my blog. The links are as follows:
http://www.praythendo.com/god-is-not-finished-with-his-chosen-nation-of-israel/
http://www.praythendo.com/john-pipers-brand-of-replacement-theology/
http://www.praythendo.com/thoughts-on-the-rapture-2/
http://www.praythendo.com/israel-c-h-spurgeon-quote-from-1860/

For an actual quote on John Piper’s beliefs you can also refer to the one link above on my blog regarding “John Piper’s Brand of Replacement Theology.” However, the Wikipedia listing on Piper says it all in a very brief format. Here’s the link to the Wikipedia page on Piper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Piper_(theologian)

Here is what Wikipedia reports as to Piper’s theology on the following two topics. My belief is that the Village Church would subscribe to the same theology, but they simply won’t ever discuss it publicly:

Eschatology

“Piper describes himself as an “optimistic premillennialist and holds a post-tribulation view of the second coming of Jesus, which teaches that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. Because of this belief, he maintains that Romans 11 teaches that a mass in-gathering of ethnic Israel will be saved when the hardening of their hearts is removed at Jesus’ second coming. He therefore advocates the importance of hoping in the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return.”

Law and covenant

“Piper does not don any of the typical hermeneutical frameworks, but claims he is furthest from dispensationalism, and closest to Covenant Theology, or a New Covenant Theology in matters of the Law and covenants, but agrees with the dispensationalist belief that there will be a millennium. He says that the Law was meant by God to reveal sin and show man’s inability to live up to God’s righteous standards. Christians, living under the New Covenant, are not under the Old Covenant law but able to fulfill its intent through faith in Jesus Christ. Piper teaches that God has only one covenant people, mostly believing Jews in the Old Testament, and now that relationship has been superseded by the Church. Thus, all Christians, both Jew and Gentile, are the rightful inheritors of all the promises made to ethnic Israel (land, kingdom, etc.), and Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah have no divine right of claim on those promises.”

In summary, my overall reason for leaving the Village Church is their clear lack of teaching on the whole of the Bible. I truly wish I had realized this fact when we first started attending the Village. Looking back now, there was one big sign that I missed that in retrospect should have tipped me off. I remember once when my wife and I had only been attending the Village Church for about a year, there was a time when Matt Chandler solicited the Church members, to ask them what they would like him to preach on. The members were asked to turn in hand written pieces of paper with topics on which they would like to hear sermons. I remember one Sunday Matt was on the stage with a handful of papers and he remarked that the number one requested sermon topic was, “End Times.” Matt then commented with a laugh, “And I’m not gonna do it!” I really thought at the time that Matt’s comment was a tongue-in-cheek kind of comment, but as it turned out, it wasn’t.

The Village Church is not only guilty of not teaching on the whole of the Bible, but they are intentionally concealing their beliefs on numerous Biblical issues to avoid any public debate on such. I may disagree with John Piper’s view on Israel and eschatology, but I give him credit for putting his beliefs out there. He’s clearly never tried to deceive anyone by avoiding the topic. As I previously stated, I could agree to disagree on many issues regarding Biblical eschatology and the issues surrounding it, it is the issue of Israel in prophecy where I draw the line. Israel is the hill I die on. I know that God’s covenants are everlasting and He keeps His word. If I didn’t believe that I would have to question my own ability to know that I am saved. In that light, I take God’s promise to Abraham regarding the nation of Israel, and the fact that people are literally blessed or cursed based upon how they treat the Jewish people, in Genesis 12:3 very much to heart, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim!
(Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! – Psalm 122:6)

Maranatha!

David Bruce

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50 Comments

  1. Hi brother,
    Excellent article and thank you for clarifying what I was attempting to uncover. I just ran across Matt’s 12 part series on all things except eschatology. I suspected th calvinist stance on replacement theology when I heard Matt say out of the blue something about “some people think that they will get swooped out of here before the bombs drop or some kind of star wars thing…well that is for another sermon..”
    What an utter disappointment because Matt’s preaching otherwise was great.

    Concerning prophecy and eschatology Matt is spiritually blind and a scoffer. My name is Michael King by the way in case Matt wants a name. It is irresponsible to throw God’s word under the bus and then say that is for another sermon. All those people watching him will blindly believe what he says because of his position. I heard Matt call someone that critisized him a narcicistic zero for not leaving their name. Replacement theology is a cancer in the church and is a calvinistic belief.

  2. Thanks for writing this. I had been looking for Chandler’s eschatology and obviously found nothing. This is balanced and helpful.

    • Josh

      So you believe Jewish Nationals will inherit salvation regardless of their belief in Jesus as the messiah?

      Also: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/what-is-eschatology/
      Seems as though in 2009 theres a good read about their stance on eschatology.
      Jeremy you should check it out.

      Finally, I have to ask of you are Jewish by nationality? Or just very adamant about your beliefs against replacement theology based on your own study?

      • David

        Certainly NOT! They will be saved because God finally reconciles them to Him during the tribulation period, and they are saved because they accept Jesus as their Messiah. Romans 11:25-27 “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

  3. David

    Here is another blog article that clearly reflects the deceptive nature of The Village Church and it’s pastoral group. This is a very sad situation, and while I’ll pray for healing for all involved, I’ll pray mostly that The Village Church and it’s pastors will not continue to abuse their power over church members in such a manner. I think this situation also shows why The Village Church’s covenant membership contract is very unbiblical. Essentially, the Village Church and it’s pastors have set themselves up as a second mediator between God and man, in addition to Jesus. Clearly, the situation in this blog demonstrates that The Village Church is more interested in protecting their financial enterprise than they are in protecting members of Jesus’ Church.
    http://watchkeep.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/she-speaks-village-church-protects.html?m=1

    Here is another blog with interesting commentary on the above article.
    http://mattbredmond.com/2015/05/22/some-thoughts-on-what-is-happening-at-the-village-church/

  4. Roy

    The greater thing to see here is the power of GOD, Pual tells us in Romans 9:21 “Does not the potter have POWER over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? We will all be used to fulfill the scriptures, Paul was used by the LORD for both honor and dishonor, Saul was a scoffer he rejected the WORD then Acts 9:15, now a vessel for honorable use, showing the power of GOD, don’t give up on people, pray GOD shows people mercy the there end use by the LORD is for honorable use. We where created for HIS pleasure, HIS pleasure is to make HIS power known to the vessel of honorable use, believers. May the LORD grant us to see what HE said HE doing thru the Scriptures.

  5. Jennifer

    I stopped reading your article about half way through your retelling of Patterson’s message.

    You are missing the point.

    Things like the rapture, what happens with Israel when Jesus returns etc………. all that stuff is open handed. It is up for debate/interpretation. What about predestination???? There’s some disagreement amongst Christians on this too. I believe in it but I have many friends who do not. They are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. We believe in what Jesus did for us on the cross and that He was raised from the dead. Shouldn’t cause me to believe I’m not or they are not saved. We agree to disagree because our foundation is CHRIST.

    Whatever I or anyone believes on these subjects does not and will not effect our salvation. If we believe and confess Jesus as our Lord and savior, we are followers of Christ in the way we walk. My salvation does not rely on what I believe on these issues… we can get in scripture and wrestle with it and pray for God to give us clarity. I love reading and thinking on these things because of the unknown of it all. I like sitting with my friends and debating on why I fall where I do. It presses me and the other person into the WORD.

    Again, this my 2 cents, take it or leave.

    • David

      No, you’re missing the point.

      If you had finished my article, I clearly stated at the end that I could agree to disagree on many topics. But, my main problem with The Village Church is that they don’t preach on the whole of the Bible, even though they represent that they do. They avoid the topics I mentioned in the article, because they are not “open handed” topics, as you say, for Village Church pastors. The Village pastors are very convicted about what they believe, and they go to great lengths to avoid revealing what they believe, because they are afraid it might hurt their business model. The were continually deceptive with me, and never gave me a straight answer until things were brought to light, where they couldn’t avoid it. If you think it’s okay for a church to be deceptive like that, then that’s your prerogative.

      While I do believe that there will be signs of Jesus’ return, that the Church wasn’t appointed to suffer God’s wrath, and that there will be a millennial reign of Jesus, (and the Village pastors believe none of that), I could agree to disagree on those issues. I admit, I draw the line at the heresy of replacement/covenant theology. I can’t buy into the idea that God has replaced Israel with the Church. The Bible simply doesn’t teach that, and you have to go to great lengths to allegorize Scripture to arrive there. The Village Church sees the Church as “spiritual Israel,” (with no need for ethnic Israel to even exist) and Chandler recently taught on that in his James series. They are not, once again, “open handed” as you say. They are very convicted in that belief. But when I asked a Village pastor who the 144,000 were in Revelation, I was told, “We have no opinion on that.” Well, sorry, they are Jews. You have to deal with that.

      A Bible teaching church has an obligation to teach the whole of the Bible, especially when they say they do. A church owes it to it’s members to be honest about what they believe. I was literally lied to repeatedly by Village Church pastors in their attempt to conceal their beliefs.

      Colossians 3:9 – “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.”

      • John Hutchinson

        “The following doctrines are not, in our opinion, of as equal clarity in the pages of God’s revelation as that which is expressed above and we therefore hold them with an open hand. Teaching and preaching upon such issues must be done with an understanding that a plethora of Bible-believing, God-fearing, passionate evangelical Christians have a wide array of beliefs on these issues. Humility is definitely demanded.” Jan 2009 statement

        Frankly, I think that you are in the wrong here; not in having a different perspective on the matter which I believe you do, although I do not support the apparent preferred TVC position. Rather, it is that you want a discussion on the dill and cumin issues well beyond what might be beneficial and may detract from larger issues and concerns. Christ emphasized the major issues (justice, mercy, faith) – Matthew 23:23, and I don’t think that the general (orthodox) church is doing a competent enough job on these.

        You must make a distinction between heresy and heterodoxy, which is a problem with many, if not most in the church. A heterodoxy is a variance with Biblical truth. A heresy is a variance with Biblical truth which threatens (or is negatively indicative of) one’s salvific status. Although eschatology could potentially be salvific threatening if one’s conduct is predicated on wrong understandings; when it is only a theological issue, one’s position cannot but be deemed of secondary and/or tertiary nature.

        • David

          I think you misread my overall comment regarding TVC. My problem is not what they believe on these issues around eschatology and Israel, it’s that they are deceptive and do not teach on the whole of the Bible. They have masqueraded for years that they, “Just haven’t had the opportunity to preach on these things yet,” when in fact they have intentionally ignored them, for the sake of not wanting anyone to leave the Church. TVC and it’s pastors are well convicted in what they believe in the areas of eschatology and Israel in prophecy, yet they tell people repeatedly that they have no position on such. The problem is that comments trickled out over the years and made me wonder where they were at on these issues. When I finally pressed I got an earful. At first I got lied to and was given half truths to get around the issues. Then they just got pointed with me. They think Christian Zionists are a joke.

          I just think a church and its pastoral group owes it to be honest to its members, regarding what they believe on a topic like the second advent, that the Bible emphasizes three times more than the first advent. TVC, in its fourteen year history, has clearly avoided teaching on such topics. If you are a-millennial, if you don’t believe in a literal seven year tribulation period (TVC would say we’ve been in the trib since Jesus ascended), if you believe there will be no signs of Jesus’ return other than that of Jesus “coming on the clouds,” and finally, if you believe the only role for Jews in the last days is that they can be saved just like Gentiles (that there is no specific role for ethnic Israel in the last days), THEN TEACH IT!!! I just think a church should be honest with its members.

        • David

          I wanted to follow-up my initial reply to you. I was remiss in not mentioning one of the main reasons why this issue of Israel in prophecy IS in fact, as you would call, an open-hand item. In fact it relates directly to one’s confidence in their salvation through Jesus. If you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, as The Village Church does, that is, the belief that Israel has been replaced by the Church, or Israel was never the “chosen nation” at all and the focus was really always on the Church, then you MUST regard God as a covenant breaker. There is no other choice. The covenants that God made to Abraham regarding the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel were in fact unilateral covenants. They were not bilateral covenants in that God’s covenant was contingent on the Jews works. In each case the Lord said, “I WILL give you this Land for all generations to come, for everlasting, as long as there are stars in the sky,” etc. With regard to the Nation of Israel it was the same, the Lord said, “I WILL make you a great nation, I WILL bless you and make your name great, and in you all the families of the Earth will be blessed.” People who believe in covenant/replacement theology, such as the pastoral group at The Village Church, try to say that God didn’t walk away from those covenants to Israel, but that God is not required to honor those covenants as Israel is existing in unbelief. In my opinion, that is a really bad argument, and it infers that God could in fact walk away from believers in Jesus under the New Covenant under grace if we were to ever stumble in our faith. In essence, if you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, you should also not believe in any permanence of salvation, however The Village Church does teach the, “once saved always saved” concept. That is a dichotomy if on the other hand you believe that God has the ability to walk away from a covenant that He has made conditioned only on His promise. Of course, I personally do believe in the permanence of salvation. I don’t believe we can slip through Jesus’ fingers as we are Jesus’ fingers. We are grafted into Him. And, I also believe that God will honor his covenants to Israel, and in the last days He will reconcile that nation to Him as Paul discusses in Romans 11.

          • John Hutchinson

            David:

            I probably agree with your eschatology far more than TVC or New Calvinists/Reformed, being a historical premillennialist as the first generations of Christians were, but with a few iconoclastic twists.

            And I do understand that even a minute theological discrepancy seems to logically lead to ultimately undermining foundational and essential tenets of faith. For instance, arguments used to use Welch’s grape juice for communion instead of wine, against scrupulous fidelity to Scriptures, can act as precedent to enable other rationally derived principle from Scriptures to trump other scripturally specific truth/ethic.

            The issue for me is in not permitting the lesser issues to dominate the greater issues. If TVC, which has a definite position, emphasized their eschatology, even to the point of insisting on belief in it as grounds for membership and/or discipline (since TVC permits itself to discipline non-members according to its own documents); I would find that offensive and wrong. And my attitude is not uncommon.

            You find it offensive and wrong that are not more forthcoming in their position.

            You can appreciate that in that context, TVC would be between a rock and a hard place.

          • David

            I appreciate your comments, I really do, but I want to once again stress that while many facets of eschatology are not foundational truths, I hold that the Bible’s teaching of the existence of a political ethnic Israel in the last days is in fact foundational. Replacement theology and the various iterations of supersessionism require one to believe in a God that breaks His covenants. If believing that God keeps His word is not foundational, then nothing is. And yes, my biggest problem with TVC is not that I disagree with them on Israel in prophecy, it is that there are intentionally deceptive to their members and attenders when it comes to their beliefs. I don’t think that any part of Jesus’ church has the right to be deceptive in any area. As for the idea that it would be offensive for TVC to prescribe a certain belief, they in fact do just that. Their pastoral group is clearly organized around replacement theology and/or new covenant theology and over the years anyone who expressed a differing view quickly was shown the door. They don’t and wouldn’t tolerate a pastor promoting a book by someone like Hal Lindsey, David Jeremiah, David Reagan, Timothy McHaye, etc., or anyone else espousing a pre-trib dispensational view that includes a place for political ethnic Israel to exist in the last days. TVC would look at that just like someone who might hold to a modelistic view of the trinity, a non supremacy view of Jesus, or even support gay marriage. If you are of those persuasions then you would be free to attend the church, but you’re not going to ever lead a home group or even teach Sunday school. TVC would look at their brand of eschatology as a foundational truth when it comes to putting someone, either a lay person or pastor, in a teaching position, and if they didn’t agree with TVC pastoral beliefs they would never be put in such a position. As for your very last comment, I think TVC has certainly put themselves between a rock and a hard place. They are consigned to continue to avoid major parts of the Bible in their teaching, lest they reveal what they believe about eschatology and Israel in prophecy in particular. I can’t believe anyone would believe that was Jesus’ plan for His church.

      • Joel

        Full Disclosure: I am a current, Covenant Member of The Village Church and regularly attend the Flower Mound campus (since May 2009).

        I grew up in Southern Baptist churches and rarely heard much teaching about the end-times other than they are here, that Christ will return, and that we need to be prepared. In my own study of systematic theology, I have a different opinion than the one you present.

        As Alistair Begg regularly says, “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.” In R. C. Sproul’s teaching on the end-times, he discusses the prevailing views and acknowledges that plausible arguments can be made for either of those positions. Eschatology is interesting (fascinating really) but it has nothing to do with a salvific belief in Jesus Christ. Only a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (a monergistic work in and of itself, as I understand it) will save you, not being born into historic/genetic Israel.

        You state that “a church owes it to it’s members to be honest about what they believe”. You point to an article on TVC’s website that states: “The Village does not currently have a formal position on the timing of the rapture. Therefore, we are not officially pre-trib (meaning the church will be raptured before the final tribulation), mid-trib, pre-wrath, or post-trib.” Would it not be foolish to engage in teaching about something on which they have no formal position?

        I would say my self-study of this subject is fairly extensive (and, unless you’ve had formal training on the topic, as valid as yours) because I am interested in the topic but I don’t see anything in scripture that commands me to take a position on it. Ultimately it is debatable, but many seem to hold it as a required doctrinal statement for participation in the universal church. To me that is arrogant and un-grace-ful. There is nothing heretical about holding a different view on eschatology, assuming we agree that there is a time when the world as we know it will be judged and those who are saved will be with Jesus Christ in eternity and those are not saved will suffer eternal judgment. Beyond that, I think we should have a little more grace with each other.

        With the understanding that I may be violating the principle they lay out, I would list a couple of scriptures to guide us here:

        Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

        2 Timothy 2:23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

        As to Replacement Theology, I think that the Christian church is a continuation of God’s covenant with Israel and is not inconsistent with OT and NT teachings that one’s convenantal standing with God is tied to one’s heart, not one’s birth. Of course, I may be wrong in my understanding because “there are some things in [Scripture] that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16) and I try not to presume that I can know the mind of God other than what he explicity and clearly teaches. Otherwise, I just try to enjoy the time plumbing the depths of Scripture, especially the harder, more meaty parts but there will be disagreements among strong, truly-saved Christians and that’s okay.

        • David

          Certainly you don’t have to hold any particular position with regard to eschatology in order to be saved, BUT, I disagree that theology surrounding Israel does not relate directly to our salvation. To subscribe to covenant or replacement theology you have to buy into the belief that God breaks His covenants. God’s covenants to Israel regarding the land and nation were unilateral and for “everlasting,” that is for, “all generations to come.” The covenants were not conditioned on Israel’s faithfulness. Do you believe your salvation through Christ is something that can’t be taken from you? You shouldn’t if you subscribe to covenant or replacement theology as The Village Church does. If God can break His covenants with Israel for any reason, He can certainly break any covenant with an individual under grace. Subscribing to covenant or replacement theology makes God a liar. I find that to be a huge problem. Sorry, the Church is not a continuation of Israel. The Church and Israel have distinct roles and God is not done with His chosen nation of ethnic Israel. The coming tribulation period is referred to in the Old Testament as the “Time of Jacob’s trouble.”(Jeremiah 30:7) “Jacob” is not a reference for Israel. It refers to ethnic Israel. So, I don’t see this as a “plain thing.”

          I find it interesting that you bring up RC Sproul. I read his book, “The End Times According to Jesus.” Yes, he makes various arguments in each direction regarding eschatological points, but he concludes and leans himself to a preterist viewpoint, so his book would be “allowed” at The Village Church. Note all the books and Christian authors that The Village Church pastors recommend. It’s all people who subscribe to replacement and covenant theology. Think you’ll ever see a recommendation for a book by Hal Lindsay, David Reagan, David Jeremiah, or even Louis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary? Not a chance! Louis Sperry Chafer founded DTS in 1924 after the Balfour Declaration at the end of WWI that mandated a home for Jews in Palestine. Chafer was so moved by the obvious implication of the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy that he was motivated to start a seminary to teach that Biblical truth. Sadly, today many people graduating from that same seminary consider Chafer a fool and would never quote him. That is certainly the case with The Village Church pastors. They regard such in exactly that vein. I know as I’ve had the discussions with them. I was told by the Theology Pastor at The Village Church that there is no Biblical reason, to fulfill any future prophecy, for ethnic Jews to even exist. So don’t tell me the Village Church would even for a minute accept a differing view on Israel. There were only two pastors in the history of the Village Church that I know of who didn’t subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, and neither lasted very long in their jobs. The Village Church pastors are all in harmony in their belief in covenant theology as it relates to Israel and anyone with a Zionist view will find the environment to be toxic. And, for the record – they are flat out wrong. God loves the Jewish people. They are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). Their restoration in our contemporary times was just as the Bible predicted and couldn’t have happened without divine intervention. Replacement and covenant theology are simply doctrines rooted in centuries old anti-Semitism toward Jews. I could make the case for Christian Zionism, but this brief article by David Reagan of Lion and Lamb Ministries does it very well.

          http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_millennium7.php

          One thing that was interesting for me as I debated this issue with Village Church pastors, is the fact that I grew up in a Jehovah’s Witness home. My mother became a Jehovah’s Witness in 1962 when I was six years old. I left my teens as a disillusioned adult with regard to Jesus and had nothing to do with theology until I was later in my adult years. My mother was married to a man who was a Ministerial Overseer in the Jehovah’s Witness organization. When I became a born again believer it only led to more of a division between my mother and me. Believe me, I get Jesus’ message when He said in Matthew 10: 35-36, “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Most conversations I had with my mother and step-father became theological debates. The interesting thing is that Jehovah’s Witnesses subscribe to replacement theology, as do all the other cults as well as mainstream corrupt liberal Christianity. My step-father passed away last year, but a few years ago I got into a major debate with him on replacement theology and ethnic Israel’s Biblically prescribed role in the last days. The amazing thing for me was that I was having this discussion with my step-father about the JW’s replacement theology, concurrently while having the exact same discussion with The Village Church! Now, hear me for certain, The Village Church is a far cry from the theology of a cult like the JW’s. The Village does preach the correct gospel, the person of Christ, the trinity, etc., but when it comes to replacement theology? Well, they line up pretty well with each other, and that’s the sad reality of it. Covenant/replacement theology is just that corrupt.

          Another thing you seemed to mention in your response, that I want to clarify, is that people are not saved just by being ethnic Jews. I’ve never ever inferred that. In fact, they have historically largely been unable to be saved. As Paul writes in Romans 11:8, “God has given them a spirit of stupor. Eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.” Paul writes in Romans 11 that Israel has had a, “hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” But, then Paul says in Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Eventually, at the end of the tribulation ALL JEWS WILL BE SAVED, but not because they are Jews, but because they have turned to the Deliverer out of “Zion” – Jesus. Note where Jesus is from at that time – “ZION.” Jesus is still a Jew. They are his brethren.

          Finally, with regard to other eschatological topics like the millennial reign, rapture, tribulation, etc., The Village Church DOES have an official position. They’ve said for years that they don’t, but the details trickle out in sermons, position papers, etc. as I’ve noted in my blog article. They are firmly convicted in what they believe, but refuse to teach on it because it is controversial. PLEASE NOTE, I stated in my article that my reason for leaving The Village Church was not because of theological differences, but because they do not teach on the whole of the Bible and they simply don’t. Chandler admits that in his book, “The Explicit Gospel.” He notes in the chapter on “Consummation” that he has never given one sermon on eschatology and gives absolutely unjust reasons for such. That should be a problem for anyone. At least 25% of the Bible is prophecy. There are estimated to be around 300 prophecies regarding the first advent, and over 900 on the second advent. That’s a lot of the Bible you’re not going to teach on if you refuse to teach on eschatology. And Matt Chandler doesn’t teach on it, period. He has stated that he won’t in the past. But, he has strong convictions as to what he believes regarding such issues. Those things have been made clear when you listen to him as long as I did, and of course speak with numerous pastors at the church. That’s why I labeled them as dishonest and they are. Church members deserve more than that. They deserve to know what their pastoral group believes about the entire Bible, and then they can make a choice as to whether or not to attend that church. People at the Village Church are clearly short changed in that instance.

          Lastly, for anyone reading this, if you have any doubt that The Village Church teaches Covenant/Replacement Theology, you need not doubt it anymore. Matt Chandler gave his most detailed confirmation as to his “Spiritualization” of ethnic Israel, in his first sermon in his James series, he did this year on February 7/8. Below is a link to the specific sermon I am taking the follow text from. These are Matt Chandler’s exact words from the sermon transcript on the Church’s Web site:

          “What we see in regard to biblical theology, an overview of what the Bible teaches, is that James isn’t just writing to Christian Jews, but rather his understanding and our understanding is that Israel (the chosen people of God) is now all of those who have come to know Christ as Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, Greek or Scythian. Right? We are all the true Israel. It’s not ethnic Jews who are Israel but rather all of those who are in Christ. He is writing to the true church of God dispersed throughout the world.”

          http://media.thevillagechurch.net/sermons/transcripts/201502081115FMWC21ASAAA_MattChandler_JamesPt1-BrotherServant.pdf

          Maranatha!!!

          • Joel

            You are much better read on your position regarding Israel than I, so I will not debate the various authors and details. To that point, though, I think you are using this as your balance in which you will weigh any teacher/preacher you hear and I think that is dangerous because it seems to be your “make or break” linchpin.

            In a nutshell, my understanding is that God saved people before Israel existed, he covenanted with Abraham before Israel (as a nation or as a man – Jacob – existed), and from among the Gentiles. From Scripture, I believe that God, in his sovereignty, has had a chosen people throughout time and that the Christian church is a continuation of Israel.

            As to the covenant, God has cut-off some the branches and has grafted in others, but the root is the same. I don’t think it is a “replacement” as much as it is an expansion and continuation of God’s salvific work.

            I believe your categorization of R.C. Sproul as a preterist is off. Preterists believe that all biblical prophecies have come to pass other than the return of Christ. The historic view is probably best defined by the phrase “already / not yet” which says that some of the prophecies have been fulfilled but there are prophecies that have yet to come to pass.

            Continuing the historical view of eschatology by the church, yours is the most recent arrival. My understanding is that the view to which you are so ardently attached only came about in the last couple of decades of the 19th century. At no point in church history (based on sermons, confessions, catechisms) does one find much discussion about the end-times other than Jesus is returning to judge the quick and the dead and we need to be prepared.

            I think people like LaHaye, Lindsey, Hagee, and others have made a lot of money out of telling stories based on a mish-mash of proof-texting and many in the church focus on the tribulation that they lose sight of our Great Commission.

            With that said, I do think that, as difficult as it can be, eschatology is a fascinating subject but not one that we will be able to know until it happens. Enjoy the studies but I would encourage you to think about your approach. We could all use a lot more grace in those areas in which we disagree and I hope that I am not coming across harshly. Forgive me if I am.

            Soli Deo Gloria.

          • Thanks for sharing this article with all this disclosure. I had never heard of Matt Chandler until I came across a sponsored post by Audible on my Facebook feed today with recommendations for his books.

            Some commenters mentioned his End Times views, so I decided to research a little more.

            Joel, you said:

            “Continuing the historical view of eschatology by the church, yours is the most recent arrival. My understanding is that the view to which you are so ardently attached only came about in the last couple of decades of the 19th century. At no point in church history (based on sermons, confessions, catechisms) does one find much discussion about the end-times other than Jesus is returning to judge the quick and the dead and we need to be prepared.”

            This is not true, although so many people have said it many people actually believe it is true without researching it. Part of it is, that as Protestants, we tend to reject anything the Catholic church says and we certainly don’t read their writings.

            In the first few centuries AD, there were a lot of End Time prophecies. Even in the past century there have been. You may doubt the validity of them, but there has always been conversations about it.

            Also, the claim that the whole concept of a Rapture didn’t originate until the 1800’s by Darby is just flat out false. Darby did formalize and line out a structure of what he believed, but the “catching away” has been a common belief since Jesus talked about it.

            Yes, the Ante-Nicene writers DID talk about it, not the least of which was Clement of Rome, who is named by Paul in Philippians 4:3. His writings were so well respected that they were contenders for the canon and quoted by many church fathers. He encouraged the church to hold fast to their faith so they would be “saved from the wrath to come.”

            Notice that there is a similar warning to the church in Sardis by John in Revelation 3:3. They are warned to return to their original faith or Jesus would come like a thief in the night. This is a clear reference to Matthew 24:42 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Clement was writing around the same time as the book of Revelation was written. He was martyred around 100 AD.

            In the early work, The Shepherd of Hermas, there is also a reference to being saved from wrath, but these two are not the only early theologians who believed in the catching away from the church.

            David, Thank you for highlighting that the period is referred to as the time of “Jacob’s” troubles. I never noticed that before.

            I completely agree with you that if a church that claims the name of Christ denies his specific promises to the people of Israel in Genesis 12:3, that yes, that is a hill to stand on.

            That is the Antichrist spirit operating, and it may not seem like a big deal to someone, but it will work it’s way out in other beliefs as well.

            Of course they stay away from discussing eschatology. Everything in Revelation refers to Old Testament prophecy and if you try to cut the Jews out of it, it makes no sense at all.

          • David

            Excellent analysis Carla! Thank you so much for this reply!

        • Greg Logan

          If “the things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things” then that sort of make mince-meat of the beloved doctrine of the trinity….

          • David

            I think you make a good point. The Biblical teaching on the trinity is clearly derived from Scripture, but is not directly taught in an explicit manner. The teaching on the trinity was one of the first doctrines agreed to by the early Christian Church, as it wrestled with the nature of Jesus (i.e., Him being fully human and fully God). The trinity is considered a “plain thing” and a “main thing” by most Christians, but it is also one of the most common apologetics that we are also called to defend. I think the Abrahamic covenants regarding the Land of Israel and Nation of Israel are just as “plain” and “main” as the trinity doctrine. God made a permanent promise to Israel through those covenants. And God keeps His promises. On that we can have our essential hope in Christ.

    • Roy

      Hi Jennifer in John 21:15b Jesus ask Peter a question “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than than THESE?” Peter had went off fishing with the deciples, Jesus responded was “feed My lambs” if we love the WORD and GOD then we should feed HIS lambs. In John 8:47 Jesus said “He who is from God hears God’s WORDS; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” In Isaiah 46:10a here’s what GOD declares, “Declaring the end from the beginning ” GOD has sent the WORD to every generation of what he did from beginning to the end, yes Christ died for us!! But that’s not the whole story, the story has a beginning and a end, Jesus said “I’m the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End”. Rev. 1:8.a. If we are a disciple of Chist then the whole story is being formed in us not just a clip from the story! Thru the Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ being the cornerstone, God has put before all generations the spoken WORD, which is Jesus Christ. the vessels that will display His mercy are predestined to be conformed to the Image of HIS SON. His Words will be formed in us! God bless Sister!

    • Ed Chapman

      The gift that the apostle Paul wished that people would covet the most was prophecy. When Jesus revealed himself to his disciples, he used the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy) and The Prophets (Joshua to Malachi), to where they would slap their foreheads, and say…”ahhhh…now I get it!”

      Hebrews 6 tells us to MOVE AHEAD, and stop preaching the same ole same ole introductory doctrines…and Paul tells us that it’s time to grow up, and stop drinking milk.

      So, I feel it is you that is missing the point.

      Paul said that there is much advantage to being a Jew, for they hold the Oracles of God.

      If you want to know Jesus…ask an unbelieving Jew…he will reveal Jesus to you, even tho they have no clue about Jesus, or reject Jesus.

      The Jews are a light to the Gentiles.

      The Gentiles have not cornered the market on God.

      Ed Chapman.

    • David

      I wanted to follow-up my initial reply to you. I was remiss in not mentioning one of the main reasons why this issue of Israel in prophecy IS in fact, as you would call, an open-hand item. In fact it relates directly to one’s confidence in their salvation through Jesus. If you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, as The Village Church does, that is, the belief that Israel has been replaced by the Church, or Israel was never the “chosen nation” at all and the focus was really always on the Church, then you MUST regard God as a covenant breaker. There is no other choice. The covenants that God made to Abraham regarding the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel were in fact unilateral covenants. They were not bilateral covenants in that God’s covenant was contingent on the Jews works. In each case the Lord said, “I WILL give you this Land for all generations to come, for everlasting, as long as there are stars in the sky,” etc. With regard to the Nation of Israel it was the same, the Lord said, “I WILL make you a great nation, I WILL bless you and make your name great, and in you all the families of the Earth will be blessed.” People who believe in covenant/replacement theology, such as the pastoral group at The Village Church, try to say that God didn’t walk away from those covenants to Israel, but that God is not required to honor those covenants as Israel is existing in unbelief. In my opinion, that is a really bad argument, and it infers that God could in fact walk away from believers in Jesus under the New Covenant under grace if we were to ever stumble in our faith. In essence, if you subscribe to covenant/replacement theology, you should also not believe in any permanence of salvation, however The Village Church does teach the, “once saved always saved” concept. That is a dichotomy if on the other hand you believe that God has the ability to walk away from a covenant that He has made conditioned only on His promise. Of course, I personally do believe in the permanence of salvation. I don’t believe we can slip through Jesus’ fingers as we are Jesus’ fingers. We are grafted into Him. And, I also believe that God will honor his covenants to Israel, and in the last days He will reconcile that nation to Him as Paul discusses in Romans 11.

  6. samuel

    I really appreciate your paper here. i have my own opinions on several of the topics you have addressed but have never felt comfortable discussing them with many church going people because i dont understand their view of them and they often use what i call double speak or just confuse the issues and make me feel ignorant if i dont know what ‘covenant replacement’ etc means.
    The denial of the Jewish people being God’s chosen people and the denial of the end time prophesies concerning the ethnic/physical land of Israel would be exactly where anyone (in my opinion) would have to seriously realize that the doctrine is badly in error. i think the points you made concerning this are exact and unrefutable, unless one wants to say that the Bible is not true.
    i read an article by Derrek Prince one time (i dont totally agree with all of his teachings) that addressed the issue of ‘mixture of spirits’. Mr. Prince wrote that King Saul had a mixture of spirits, sometimes he prophesied in the Holy Spirit and sometimes in demons. He went on to address the fact that people can be that way today also. The reason i think this is applicable is that since Mr. Chandler has been seen on video obviously not in the Holy Spirit berating someone that sent an annonymous email criticising him, and as you and many others have noted, Mr Chandler has obviously lied before and been controlling, but at other times he preaches the gospel (it has been said). If someone isnt wholly following the Lord Jesus then they would naturally have demonic influences and demonic influences would never want to talk about Jesus’ glorious return. Or about Jesus’ triumph over the devil and the power of the blood of Jesus and His great victory over him at the cross. Basically demons can talk about scriptural things but wouldnt talk about Jesus power over them. The point about what Derrek Prince said is so that i dont get 5million comments now accusing me of saying that Mr. Chandler isn’t a christian :)

    I look forward to reading your other articles as time allows, and by the way i am kind of in the opinion at this time that mid-tribulation rapture sounds more plausable, but i’m not sure of that either so i do look forward to reading your views on this. I think that TVC would have been blessed to have you as their eschatology teacher because of your willingness to discuss and also because of the things that Jesus has obviously taught you so far. their quick dismissal of you does in my opinion show that they ascribe to pipers views on this subject.

  7. Brooke

    I enjoyed reading this and it brought up Some topics I need to think deeply about. I have experienced some issues with this church as well that I’ve been deeply convicted of, even before the Karen Hinkley issue came about. How would you reccomend that I leave the church? Do you think I should formally resign or can I wait and just not renew my membership? It’s sad that I’m intimidated by formally resigning. :(

    • David

      Thanks for your feedback Brooke! I would like to tell you that you could just notify the Church that you are resigning your membership, but that didn’t go well for my wife and me. When I told the Church’s campus pastor that I was leaving because of theological differences, I was told that I couldn’t do that without a meeting with he and another pastor or elder in the church. Of course, I had really already felt by that time that God had prompted my wife and I to leave the Church, and it was a finished matter. It didn’t go well from that point on. I was actually told that unless we had a meeting with the Church, that we couldn’t resign our membership, and that we were technically not permitted to join another Church. That is really what prompted me to write this blog article. When they saw the article on my blog, I was contacted again by the Church’s campus pastor, who said they wanted a meeting to discuss “potential issues” with my blog article. I asked them to write up what issues they had with my blog article so that I had time to research their issues, if necessary, and then I would meet with them. They refused to put anything in writing so I simply refused to meet at that point. In light of the foregoing, I would recommend then that you just not renew your membership. I sincerely wish it didn’t have to be that way, but I’m afraid you’ll get into a situation with the Church that you can’t get out of like we did. It’s not a pleasant experience I can tell you. However, we are happy members of another Church at this time.

  8. Brooke

    Thanks for the advice David! Glad to know you’ve found a new church home.

    • Joel

      Brooke, I would offer you encouragement here. I don’t think that the church will be upset with you. I think how they respond is largely determined by how they are approached. They are just people, fallen in nature, sinful from birth, but redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ. Like any one of us, depending on our personalities, we respond based on how we are feeling at the time, what the history of a situation is, and any of a million different variables. If you are in a homegroup, I would start there with someone you know. I have had questions and concerns over the years here but I came here from another church where I had some fundamental philosophical disagreements on things. I addressed it with three of the pastors, including the lead pastor. I didn’t expect them to change for me and we parted amicably. I think they are still a church that God uses to reach other people and, despite my disagreements, I pray for them. I have many good friends that are still there.

      David’s is one experience. I haven’t heard Geoff Ashley’s side of David’s story or anyone else from TVC’s staff. I also think in light of the Hinckley situation that you will find the staff to be a lot more sensitive to your concerns. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the last sermon from the James series (5/31), I would encourage you to do so.

      Remember too that Paul and Barnabas split over a disagreement about John Mark (Acts 15:37-41). Though Scripture doesn’t go into detail, I think the conversations around that got heated (there was a “sharp disagreement” ESV). But God used that to spread the gospel even faster: Paul went one way, Barnabas and John Mark went another. In the end, they were reconciled – Paul even gives a shout-out to Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 saying that Timothy was “very useful to [Paul] for ministry”.

      • David

        I wanted to listen to Matt Chandler’s last sermon from the James series, since you have recommended it to Brooke, before I posted your comment and my reply. I have done that and I really probably shouldn’t have. I had long ago let go of the sadness I had over the way I was treated at The Village Church, and watching that sermon conjured some of it back up. You make a comment above that, “how they respond is determined by how they are approached.” Let me tell you, I approached every pastor, every time, at The Village Church in literally an apologetic manner, like I was terribly infringing on their time, like I was not important and my concerns were not important, and I always started off every discussion with comments that were complementary of the Church and its promotion of the Gospel. I was always humble and literally apologetic in my approach for even asking for clarification for their various theological stances. And, that comes through in my blog article. I am complimentary of The Village Church and I don’t make any petty arguments. Your insinuation, and I highly resent it, is that I approached them in some inflammatory manner demanding that they agree with my beliefs, and I got treated in the manner that I deserved. That is just disgusting. Put on your Karen Hinckley hat for a moment if you’ve read the WatchKeep blog, on how she approached The Village Church pastoral group. Did she get treated in a loving and kind manner in spite of her sincere pleas to the Church for understanding? Not at all! They wielded their power over her in a roughshod manner. They greatly added to her emotional torment and showed no regard for her well being. They wanted her to be complicit in hiding from the church the fact that her husband had been addicted to sadomasochistic kiddie porn for ten years. They said he had told them he had never harmed a child and they wanted to hide his sin and see, “if anyone came forward with an abuse claim regarding their child.” When she told them they were remiss for trusting an admitted child pornographer, they in turn told her not to separate her finances from her husband as it, “might look too much like divorce.” And you’re actually questioning how I might have approached The Village Church pastors? You are literally reflecting the attitude that continues such abuse as happened in the Karen Hinckley situation. Furthermore, you actually say it’s to be of some consolation to Brooke that The Village Church will be, “more sensitive in light of the Karen Hinckley situation.” That’s just an amazing comment. In the absence of social media, The Village Church pastors would have clearly run roughshod over Karen, and increased the emotional torment in her life, while they protected their buddy Jordan who they went to Dallas Seminary with. You really think Karen would have got an apology if not for the massive negative press in the blogosphere? And the apology Karen got was as hollow as it gets. This blogger really nails it: http://matthewpaulturner.com/2015/06/05/regarding-matt-chandlers-sermonapology-here-are-my-thoughts/

        If you read The Village Church’s apology to Karen they really only apologized for, “not being clear enough in leading her to repentance.” Leading her to repentance for what? For the fact that she wasn’t complicit in helping to conceal a known child predator, who did have access to children in the past? For the fact that she desired to annul her marriage to a pervert addicted to kiddie porn while she clearly had Biblical grounds to do that? The whole situation is pathetic and un-Christian on so many levels it’s just disgusting. What Karen encountered is the same thing I encountered – a bunch of type A personalities on a power trip who are never wrong. And believe me; they really don’t believe they are wrong in this instance either. They just got caught and the publicity was so negative that they were worried about their franchise. Their apology said they have reviewed their protection of children and they are fine in that area. Really? They wanted to conceal a person in their midst who was a confessed purveyor of child porn who had access to kids at the church and other churches. They wanted to protect his reputation, but were completely unconcerned about Karen, and sent a letter to 6,000 people that she was the one under discipline. They also made note that there will be no changes to their covenant membership agreement and their administration of it. So, what did they really apologize for? Not much it seems. They are protecting their financial empire and using their vast resources to do so. They used influence clearly to squash any Dallas Morning News coverage of the situation with the Roots, and they also used considerable influence to get Chandler’s infamous “narcissistic zero” violent and angry rant from various Internet blogs. However, if you scroll about halfway through this blog you can hear it here:
        https://thouarttheman.org/2015/05/25/standing-by-to-hear-from-love/

        If you listen to that rant of Chandler’s you can see why people want to anonymously criticize him and/or The Village Church – they are scared of them!!! I’ve got so many comments from my blog article from people who thanked me for writing it, but they won’t say anything publicly in their own name because they are afraid of The Village Church and Chandler specifically. Just listen to Chandler’s rant in that blog article. It’s just over the top violent. And consider the tone in Chandler’s rant versus the last James series sermon. It’s simply a guy trying to manage his public profile that he is most concerned with. My guess is very few people will step forward to say that The Village Church wronged them in the past. And if they do, one way or the other, they will find out that it was they who was in the wrong.

      • Brooke

        Thanks David! That is exactly why I stated I was intimated.

        Joel- I have no problem with approaching the situation gently and walking away on good terms, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My concern was the village not responding the same way and not allowing me to leave as they did with Karen because of disagreements or just frankly trying to assert control. After all, when she wanted to leave she was not under church discipline and was still told no.

        Bottom line, The whole thing is bizarre, anyone should be able to leave the church when they want to. Also, as I stated before the Hinkley situation, that is not the only reason why I’m leaving. I’ve found it’s difficult to meet others in the church and form community. Also, I have major concerns on their treatment and view of women in leadership.

        I wish you well.

  9. Greg Logan

    Geez – that is a LOT of words – but I am not sure for what purpose. Based on what I can tell – the church can’t even figure who their mediator really is (see anhypostasis of Jesus humanness) – why would we be twirling about on a pin-head in this manner?

    The best way to deal with eschatology is to get your heart totally right with God – He will take of the rest…

    • David

      I think its important to take a stand for Israel’s God given deed to the Land given for all generations to Abraham as a unilateral covenant with Israel. As I’ve answered so many times, covenant and replacement theology are rooted in centuries old anti-Semitism toward Jews, and represent one of the Church’s greatest failings and heretical teachings. Covenant and replacement theology in essence label God a covenant breaker. I think Bible believing Christians need to take a stand for God’s faithfulness – He keeps His covenants! I agree that we can rest in God’ promise of redemption through the complete and sufficient work of Jesus, but I don’t think its ok for a church just to ignore huge parts of the Bible, because they are afraid of teaching what they believe as doing so might hurt their financial empire.

  10. John

    Your contact email is not working

    • David

      It should be, I got an email just fifteen minutes after you sent this. Try again! Thanks!

  11. John

    Great job! I want to give you info on a Ministry to Jewish people in the area that has a weekly bible study. I really i
    enjoy it.

  12. Ron

    Hi,

    This is a highly debated subject. After years of research in the bible, church history, and watch debates on the subject, it was clear to me that I the pre-tribulation is a made up thing. There is no way to go thru the scriptures in context and prove the pre-tribulation without creating several contradictions. But the secret (if you want to call it a secret) to all this is understanding Daniel 8-9 correctly and then it falls into place. In addition, a look a church history will also clear it up even more. However, this is not a important issue when it comes to justification, sanctification, and glorification. Anyway you look at it the righteous will be in heaven and called up when that is really doesn’t matter just be ready.

    • David

      Firstly, you’re missing my point, I said clearly in the article that I could agree to disagree on issues like; pre/mid/post tribulation, the rapture, and/or millennial reign in general. What I said I could not agree to disagree on is replacement/covenant theology, and the teaching that the Church has replaced Israel. The Village Church pastoral group does subscribe to covenant theology. The Bible is clear that political ethnic Israel has a role in Biblical eschatology, and God has NOT broken the covenants He made with Abraham regarding the nation and land.

      Secondly, to say the pre-trib view is made up as you state is just not accurate. There are numerous arguments for the pre-trib view and many reputable scholars hold to that view. Dallas Theological Seminary was founded by Louis Sperry Chafer on the pre-trib dispensationalist viewpoint. The pre-trib view is certainly an exegesis and not an eisegesis. Meaning, the pre-trib view is derived from Scripture, and it is NOT read into the text. I think I make a lot of good Biblical points in favor of a pre-trib rapture in this article: http://www.praythendo.com/thoughts-on-the-rapture-2/ So, it is simply not a valid argument to say the pre-trib view of the rapture is “made up” as you say.

      Lastly, it DOES matter to know the time in which we live. Jesus gave us signs of His return and told us to, “look to the sky when you see these things happen and know that your redemption is near (Matthew 24 and Luke 21).” Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5 that Jesus’ return would not, “be like a thief in the night for us because we walk in the light,” unlike non-believers who are in the dark. We are to know the season of Jesus’ return and recognize it as such! We are to look for Him as the master of a house looks for a thief that he knows is coming. That is much more than just saying you are “ready.”

  13. Churches of today tend to view scripture only through modern eyes. We think it was all written for us and our benefit only. If you consider the fact that Thessalonians was a letter written to the Thessalonian church from Paul and not written to you today, it may change your view some what. It is a fact that they were being persecuted at the time and needed hope. The rapture Paul spoke about was necessary for them. They were being fed to lions and being used as human torches. The early church needed saving. If he wasn’t speaking to them, well some might consider that to be cruel and I don’t think that was Paul’s M.O.

    Did you know: Damascus was once destroyed? Pastors today say that it wasn’t. I can prove it.

    Did you know: The scenes you read about in Revelation can also be seen in the war of 70 AD where the Jews lost their temple. Pastors today won’t even mention it.

    Did you know: The first person with the identity of ‘666’ is found in 70 AD?

    Did you know: The two witnesses in Revelation are ordained in the same way churches are ordained earlier in Revelation. This makes them more likely to be churches and not people.

    More information is available in my upcoming book: Crowning A King. See http://www.crowningaking.com

    Chandler is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. You’ll learn more from him in one sermon that you will from 20 sermons from others. I had to stop going to his church because you couldn’t get in the door anymore.

    To the author of this post: Whatever you want to believe about eschatology, it should not divide the church. It is not a pastors job to preach the way you want him to.

    • David

      Allen,
      You open a very dangerous can of theological worms with your comments. So you’re saying that Paul’s letter(s) to the Thessalonians don’t have any relevance for us today? Wow! I’m not sure where to start with that one, but does that mean we can pick and choose parts of the Bible we don’t want to apply to us today? You say Paul’s teaching on the rapture for the Thessalonians was “necessary” because they were under persecution. So, is Paul’s teaching on the rapture something he just made up to assuage the fears of the Thessalonians? And, would it then not apply to future Christians after Paul’s day? How about the thousands of Christians being persecuted and killed around the globe today? What about teachings on the rapture in other Scriptural texts? Like I said, you’re wading into very dangerous theological waters by even proposing that such Scriptures, as those written to the Thessalonians by Paul, would not be valid for our edification today.

      I realize that you are writing a book and it will help for you to have some sensational points to help sell it. My pastor does speak of the things you discuss, but he is refrain from attempting to re-write history to sell a book. I would counter that you should do likewise.

      My writing on the reasons I left The Village Church was a balanced writing. I gave credit to the Church and it’s pastors where credit is due. And, they certainly have the right to preach and teach as they desire. But, I have the right to leave a church such as The Village and that’s just what I did. I won’t support the heresy of replacement theology or new covenant theology. If I did that I would have to believe in a God who breaks His covenants. I can’t accept that. The covenants God made with Abraham and the Nation of Israel, regarding both the Nation and Land, were for “everlasting.” Those covenants were for “all generations to come.” God has not washed His hands of His chosen Nation of Israel, as a political entity, and to suggest He has is to call Him a liar. I won’t be part of any church that does that. God Himself said that Israel would always be a Nation before Him, and His everlasting covenants were not even based upon Israel’s faithfulness.
      Jeremiah 31:35-37 “This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD Almighty is his name:”Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” declares the LORD. This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done.”
      David

  14. Bo

    I was just wondering if you David are Jewish?

    • David

      No, I’m just a Gentile, grafted into the root, who realizes that I don’t support the root, but the root supports me! Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim!
      Romans 11:17-18 (ESV) “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”

  15. john hamiter

    David – Just finished reading your post and many of the responses. I applaud your courage and appreciate your struggle to be deliberate and thoughtful with your words. Not to mention the fact that you have obviously wrestled (and perhaps, will for the rest of your life),…you have wrestled for what sounded like more than a decade, at least, to be first faithful and right in your own heart. To be honorable.

    I say this because I know that raising “unpleasant” questions is not the first thing one thinks of when one considers how he may …. (pardon me, a little satire for comedy),….unpleasant “buzz kill” questions are not the first step onto the “how to win friends and influence people” path in the American church world. In a time when media savvy and marketing survey and purpose driven, results driven, user friendly churches led by gifted organizers that are the annunciators of “what God is doing in the world”……Announcing to a sound byte, stimulus saturated, info overloaded (WWJD, indeed!) overweight, and under taught “save the American Dream” nation…..it is unsurprising that the very center of everything that God will be doing for the rest of our lives, namely, revealing Himself to His people and turning their hearts back to Him, and pouring His Spirit out on them…. it is at once unsurprising and stunning that a national church forum asleep and dreaming about… “saving the nations” should be so oblivious. The American church that now, in many parts, is thanking God for leading us all back to the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit , etc. And for being re-supplied “in these last days” with vision and prophecy and prophets and prophecies….”God is restoring His presence and bringing unity to the body of Christ”, etc, but no, let’s not get side tracked on….peripheral eschatological issues…. like the promises to Israel…. Here’s one :) Avoid vain and unlearned questions that lead to strife. Let’s focus on what God is really doing :) The big stuff…”The next wave”…

    Note: You are familiar with Paul using the phrase, “…winds of doctrines”. That particular “wind”(Cov/New Cov/Repl Theol), is a doctrine that has been blowing, as you know, for more than a thousand years. Those that hold to it…That particular teaching. How are they able to support that teaching on the one hand, and renounce on the other hand the terrible acts, connected with it, that have been made the black eye of Gentile church history with the Jews? Did the Holy Spirit inspire the doctrine that has spawned hatred and defined the justification for persecution and pogroms and holocaust? Would the replacement theologians of today agree with the ranting anti-Semitic screeds produced by the modern father of the reformation? Was Luther right? Did he fully free himself of his Catholic foundation and its historic positions and crimes? Interesting. Does believing and teaching that is in direct opposition to what the apostles taught (limit the scope, for now, to this specific doctrine)…does it….has it produced good fruit that has glorified God and draws Israel/the Jew to Jesus? How has this repackaged disagreement with Paul’s words (Words inspired by the God of Israel who gave His only begotten Son, the King of Israel)…Has disagreeing and teaching others to disagree with Paul helped “further the kingdom” ? Has it produced ” fruits of righteousness”? Interesting. Seed. Trees. Fruit. Wheat. Tares. Interesting.

    Yes. I know. A long tirade. On purpose. But God knows my heart. Yes, yes He loves all of us. Absolutely. BUT… None of “us” would be having this “conversation” (hello!) had it not been that God sanctified a holy nation and raised out of it men and women to do and speak the truth to the world. “Ye are the light of the world”…? What?.. Who, pray tell, was the Lord talking to? Did any of his listeners know he was quoting from the prophet Isaiah? Did they think, “surely, he is referring to the people of North America or maybe Europe”.? ..Why would anyone think that?… (Have any of these people read Isaiah or Jeremiah or Habukkuk or Joel? Where did the phrase, “the just shall live by faith” or “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” come from, anyway? Was it from Wittenburg? Geneva? Dallas? “…O, Jerusalem, if I forget you…”

    You are onto something, I think. And you may expect to find less than open arms from the times in which we live. Did someone mention “perilous times”? Apparently, though, it was planned by God that you live your life at this time :). You will find (with wonderful exceptions!) that the response you must prepare for as you teach, admonish, study, etc will be general dullness and lack of interest.That is a general statement. There will be wonderful exceptions. So…Continue. Fall deeper and deeper in love with Him and the truth.

    I have a good question for you, David. :) (Your thoughtful words have encouraged me, sir).. If Israel to whom were given the oracles, priesthood, covenants of promise, etc.etc….you know, and the glory and so on…. If that sanctified nation could misread the times (BTW Can’t read the times accurately apart from sound scriptural thought. Especially when it comes to Israel. Especially in these momentous days.)…If it was possible for Israel to NOT really know “what God is doing”, back then…though they were pretty sure they did …. does it seem like a reach that the Gentiles worldwide or, at least in the western hemisphere.. (I’m talking about good church going, NIV Study Bible totin” believers) ….Does it seem reasonable that the Gentiles would be very sure of their thoughts. Their Consensus? What do you think? Doesn’t it seem consistent with historic precedents? Always, though, God will have a remnant. We know that.

    I have purposely not quoted scripture after scripture to support my long winded response to what you have written. ..Quoted a few… I think you are a man that is drawn to Paul’s apologies and the scriptural theme of continuity. Wasn’t it the Lord that said “…the scripture cannot be broken” ? I will just smile ask that you believe me when I say, I know that I know that the conversion of Jews around the world to their King, their Maschiach, IS the coming revival that the Gentiles (Most of them, presently anyway)… do not anticipate, AND are uninterested to consider beyond a passing theological side note.

    Think for a minute about Jewish boys spending their lives studying and memorizing words that came out of God’s own heart. Boys like Peter and Paul. Think about the Holy Spirit dropping down on them. Will they be able to see, in the scriptures, “what God is doing”? Gotta refer to Romans 8 here. I noticed that you did :) Glorious! For the rest of your life, sir, the Jews will be believing in Yeshua. And believing that Yeshua is the light of the world. But, you know that Isaiah and the prophets say that Israel, by the grace of the unchanging God, will be THE NATION through whom all the nations will be blessed. THEY ARE ground zero. To not know that and by connection, to hardly really care what God is doing with His people in Israel and worldwide, is be be…..(watch this in the days ahead ..and…you can look back at what the American church has said and done in recent decades/years)… To be generally otherwise minded when it comes to the promises to Israel, is to disagree with the revelation given to Paul. “Be not high minded, but fear…” ? What a day we live in, David! They (Israel) will be saved, according to the apostle to the Gentiles, a Hebrew of Hebrews, Praise God! If the God of Israel had sent anything other than the preeminent Hebrew bible scholar, full of the Spirit, filled with the revelation of Yeshua, and thus, a truly sound understanding of Israel’s future and….. the path through the Gentile era that would culminate with glory,… if God had loved the nations any less, he would not have sent Shaul, Paul.

    That same God, same Spirit, anointed and compelled Paul to word the Treatise to the Romans, just the way he did. Paul will be present when the Gentiles come before the Lord in that day. He will not apologize for warning the Gentiles while putting apostolic authority on record concerning the scriptures about Israel. I refuse to disagree with the apostles including Paul (perhaps, especially, Paul). He was not mistaken, my friend. And to the extent that we agree with him, neither shall we be mistaken. That is good news. Very reassuring, is it not? Well there I go again….God bless you, sir, as you search the scriptures. Keep going. Keep seeking. He promises we will find if we seek. Meantime, love the brethren fervently, but, do not let go of the good things that God is showing you. He is able to make you stand. It is the wave of the future my friend. There are vessels out there that will hear. Some more. Some less. Let’s see what the next 20 or 30 years will bring :) Thanks again, John

    • David

      John,
      This response is a profound blessing to me. Not much more I can add than that. You make great points and your point about replacement theology/covenant theology being used to persecute Jews for centuries, by the Church, and how can the Church defend that as from the Holy Spirit?, etc., well, it’s just a very profound point, and I’m so glad that you so eloquently stated it. When I became a Christian, and I came about it as one kicking and screaming down the road in refusal, it was God’s faithfulness to Israel, that convinced me that the Bible was truly the inerrant and inspired Word of God Himself. I saw God choosing this Nation, revealing Himself through that Nation, and they being so very stiff-necked (just like me), but He never let them go. He never forsook them. He made promises to them and He kept those promises, and He said He would always keep those promises, regardless of Israel’s faithfulness to Him. THAT, is a God of love! So I accepted His beautiful Son Yeshua. I asked Him to take hold of my life. My sinful often straying life. But, I know I can count of His faithfulness. I have the example of the Root (Israel). I was grafted in to that Root. Yet, I don’t support the Root, rather it supports me. I am nourished by the Root’s existence. I see God keeping His promises to the Root and I know I can be confident in my own salvation. I can’t slip through His fingers because I am His fingers. Just like the Root, this branch will be raised up in the last day!
      David

  16. I have only just stumbled upon the Village church and Matt Chandler, mainly through the situation with the missionary couple, was it Karen and Jordan (?) who divorced. This article is very interesting to me because it presents a much more rounded view of this church and their teaching and even more reasons to be concerned. Not that I even live in the States or would consider going to this church at all. I am concerned with general church trends, since most of what happens in your country comes to visit mine (Australia).

    I am deeply concerned with where many protestant organisations are heading, I don’t call them ‘the church’ because many are simply religious bodies containing many members of the body of Christ, but not totally filled with them.

    Having had to leave a large church where we spent most of our adult years, my husand and I have spent the last 12 years reformulating our own theology based on research and bible study. Your understanding of eschatology and Israel closely mirrors our own, we are not through studying and are open for correction, but at some point you have to stop reformulating and make a decision. Hence the warning about a ‘double-minded man’ who is unstable in all his ways. Living with instability is devastating for christians, we need to know what we believe, and more importantly, teachers of the Word (who are by the way getting paid to do this) should know exactly what they believe so that the hearers of the word will come to faith. Preaching the full gospel is so important, we won’t enter the doors of any church which refuses to do so either through ignorance or a desire to cater to those with itching ears.

    Upshot of all this is, appreciated reading your article, and will need to go and re-read as there is a lot in this.

    Thankyou for your diligence, and God bless you.

    • David

      Anita,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I’ve been traveling and have not had the time to reply in a timely manner, but wanted to as soon as I could, as I’ve read your comments a couple of times. You make a very profound statement when you state that, “teachers of the Word should know exactly what they believe, so that hearers of the Word will come to faith.” Wow! I can’t put that any more succinctly myself! I would add that the problem with TVC is that they do know what they believe, but rather choose not to teach on it, as doing so might hurt the financial enterprise that they are building.

      I think the most important take away from my experience with TVC, is that the issues I relate are in fact directly related to the Gospel, and THAT THEY ARE SALVIFIC IN NATURE. People who teach replacement theology and/or covenant theology have to eventually subscribe to the belief, that the God of the Bible, can and does walk away from His covenants/promises. I can never accept that belief. The covenants that God made with Israel regarding the nation and land were unconditional and “for everlasting.” If God can walk away from those covenants then He can walk away from us under the new covenant of grace through Christ Jesus. May it never be! Our God is faithful to us and He keeps his covenants and promises. On that we can rest assured and be confident in our salvation through Christ.

      Blessings on your study of the Word. My the Holy Spirit guide you, hold you, and enlighten you.

      Maranatha!

      David

  17. Josh

    David, outside of the Bible, do you have rexommendations for any reference materials/books on this topic? Thanks.

    Josh

    • David

      Hi Josh!

      Thanks for the question. I recommended a couple of texts at the end of my blog article, and I’ll add a few here. Keep in mind the Bible is always the first resource. I think it’s impossible to study the Bible and come away with any justification for replacement/covenant theology. There is simply no way one can put a spin on a verse like this, and say that God has the ability to disavow his covenants made to Abraham and the Nation of Israel:
      Psalm 105:7-11 (NKJV) “He is the Lord our God. His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance.”

      I would also recommend the booklet “Broken Branches,” by Zola Levitt (http://store.levitt.com/BBRT)
      You might want to also check out Levitt Ministries booklets on the, “Seven Feasts of Israel” and particularly a booklet entitled, “A Christian Love Story.” I have found this Messianic ministry to be quite insightful.

      Also check out Lion and Lamb Ministries Web site, founded by David Reagan, and his article entitled, “The Error of Replacement Theology,” (http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-error-of-replacement-theology/)

      Finally, check out a book by Norma Archbold entitled, “The Mountains of Israel – The Bible and the West Bank.” I got a copy from Amazon.com.

      Blessings!

      David

  18. Carina Lima

    To think different than you does not mean that we will interpret God as breaking His covenant.
    I will say it again, if Matt or anyone else think different than you does not mean God is a covenant maker, which means that I can know zero of eschatology and still be save. I can have doubts, no clear opinion or an opinion but we will ALL agree that He is not a covenant breaker. Those that believe in a New Covenant, that has different views than you do they will show you how in their thinking God is NOT a covenant breaker. When you tie these two together, you might want to win the argument or at least keep having argument. Truth is it can easily fall in that:

    Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
    2 Timothy 2:23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

    Just not the point.
    Bless you!

    • David

      Carina,

      It has nothing to do with what I think or believe. It simply has to do with what the Bible teaches. We must hold to the truth of God’s Word! And, I’m sorry, Pastor Matt and his pastoral staff do in fact believe that God is a covenant breaker. They actually will say that God has not broken His covenants with Abraham and Israel, but, that He is not required to honor them, as Israel exists in non-belief, and Jesus fulfilled the covenants. That is just a round about way of saying God is a covenant breaker. How would you suppose God could not honor His word in the following verses and numerous other verses that convey the exact same covenant?

      Psalm 105:7-11, “He is the Lord our God. His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance.”

      If God is not faithful to His Word in the above text, and numerous other texts in the Bible where He covenants with Abraham on an everlasting basis, how can we expect Him to honor His Word with us under the New Covenant of Grace through Christ Jesus? How could we ever be confident of our salvation if we believe that God is a covenant breaker. This is a salvific issue!!!

      The other problem that I discussed in my article, is that Pastor Matt and the other pastors at TVC will not teach on the topics of Israel in prophecy, the rapture of the church, the millennial reign of Christ, and other eschatological topics, as they are afraid of negative reactions that could hurt church membership and attendance. In fact, many people have already left TVC over these issues. Do you think that is what Jesus wants for His church? Does that practice reflect that the pastors at TVC are effectively shepherding their flock? I really think not!

      In essence, you are correct in that one could possibly know nothing about eschatology, and still be saved, but, if you are reading your Bible how can you not confront the issue of eschatology? The Bible itself is 25-30% prophecy. When reading the Bible you have to deal with prophecy. In fact, only though prophecy can we answer the most common Christian apologetic, that of, the fact that the Bible can be trusted as the inerrant inspired Word of God. Through prophecy and the fulfillment of prophecy, we can prove that God’s word is true. And, when it comes to prophecy, the Bible emphasizes the second advent of Jesus, three times more than the first advent of Jesus. God Himself is telling us to take serious the Biblical teachings on the return of Jesus, and this field of study we call eschatology. We must do that if we are serious students of the Bible. It always makes me wonder how someone can know nothing about eschatology, and still claim to have a solid understanding of the Bible. I just don’t think it’s possible.

      And, I don’t think the study of the return of Jesus is foolish as you say – it is vitally important! We are to know the season of His return. We are to have oil in our lamps, and be ready to meet our Savior in the air when He blows that trumpet. I think a lot of people who want to avoid eschatology, simply don’t want Jesus to return. They are too attached to this world, and they want to hold on to treasures in this life. Is that you Carina? I pray not, because the time is short.

      I hope you don’t really, “know nothing” about eschatology, and I pray to walk in the light of the truth of God’s word, and the fact that God honors His covenants – every one of them!

      Blessings to you to!

      David

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