I’ve read A Blake White’s “What is New Covenant Theology?” and he posits that the church is the “eschatological Israel”. I understand what he is saying and agree with NCT position. My question is what would be a more simplistic or less technical way to explain NCT’s position? Especially in relation to the majority position held in evangelicalism today that is (knowingly or unknowingly) influenced by Dispensationalism
Thanks for the question. New Covenant Theology understands the Church to be the fulfillment of Israel as the people of God by virtue of her union with Christ. Simply put, the Church fulfills Israel as the people of God. PTS, as one voice in New Covenant Theology, understands the nation of Israel in the following manner: “the ethnic descendants of Jacob (Gen. 28:13-15) formed into a geopolitical entity at Sinai via the Old Covenant (Exod. 19:5-6), comprised of both believers and unbelievers (1 Cor. 10:1-5; Heb. 3:16-4:2), eschatologically fulfilled in Christ – the True Israel (Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15) – and His Church (Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9), the believing remnant (Rom. 9:27; 11:5) of which was transformed into the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-10,41), and which awaits a future spiritual restoration (Amos 9:8) in the form of a massive, end-time ingathering of elect Jews into the Church at Christ’s Parousia (Rom. 11:12, 15, 25-27).” Most proponents of NCT understand the Church to be the fulfilment of Israel as the people of God. Many also understand this fulfilment as secondary to an even greater fulfilment regarding the nation of Israel– namely, that Jesus Christ is the True Israel. In other words, Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of Israel. As He is the True Seed of Abraham and David’s Greater Son, Christ fulfils all God’s promises, including those given to Israel (2 Cor. 1:20). Not only does He recapitulate Israel’s history in His own sinless humanity but He also perfectly succeeds where all God’s previous mediators, including Israel, miserably failed. R.T. France writes: “Jesus then saw himself as God’s son, undergoing prior to his great mission as Messiah the testing which God had given to his ‘son’ Israel before the great mission of the conquest of Canaan. Israel then had failed the test; now, in Jesus, was found that true sonship which could pass the test, and be the instrument of God’s purpose of blessing to the world which Old Testament Israel had failed to accomplish. ‘The history of Israel is taken up by him and carried to its fulfilment.’ The antitype, as always, is greater than the type. Old Testament Israel had failed; Jesus must succeed.” ‘The resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of Israel of which the prophet spoke.’ It is not so much that Israel was a type of Jesus, but Jesus is Israel. Thus, it is only by virtue of the Church’s spiritual union with Christ, that she can be understood to fulfil Israel in any sense. Simply put, by virtue of being “in Christ,” the True Israel, the Church is by extension the fulfilment of Israel as the people of God. Although NCT teaches that the Church has fulfilled Israel as the people of God, NCT adamantly maintains that God has not broken any of His promises to Israel. He has fulfilled them all in Christ Jesus. Furthermore, NCT also rejects the notion that the only serious interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is a strictly literal one. Instead, NCT insists that many Old Testament promises be understood typologically with relation to Christ. To sum up, Christ is the True Israel, and He has ultimately replaced Israel, and it is only by virtue of the Church’s spiritual union with Him that she can be understood to replace Israel in any sense. Many in Dispensational circles still understand this view as teaching yet another form of replacement theology or supersessionism. R.T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament: His Application of Old Testament Passages to Himself and His Mission (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1998) 53. Ibid., 55.