Is R. C. Sproul Jr.
Really A Jew?
R. C. Sproul Jr. wrote a very brief article or editorial which appeared in Table Talk magazine, a Reformed publication published by Ligonier Ministries. It appeared in the December 1998 issue, p. 2 (inside cover). I wish that I could reproduce the entire article so that you could see Mr. Sproul Jr.'s comments in their full context, but Ligonier Ministries did not grant me permission to do so. If you desire to see the entire article, I suggest you contact Ligonier Ministry (1-800-435-4343) and perhaps they can be of help.
In this article, Mr. Sproul Jr. claimed to be a Jew. This is in line with his Reformed theology which teaches that every believer, including every single saved Gentile, is a spiritual Israelite.
Here is what he said:
|We’re not dispensationalists here....We believe
that the church is essentially Israel.
that the answer to, “What about the Jews?”
is, “Here we are.” We deny that the church
is God’s “plan B.” We deny that we are
living in God’s redemptive parenthesis.
There, we are again one people. In His holy and heavenly temple there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, pre-mil nor post-mil. There, we are all together, the Israel of God, princes with God, and the ekklesia, the set apart ones.
[From Table Talk magazine, Spring of 1999, p. 2 (inside cover), by R. C. Sproul Jr., editor, emphasis in red is mine]
[Sproul Jr's quotes are in red]
1. Don’t let Hitler hear you say that!
We believe that the answer to, “What about the Jews?” is, “Here we are.” I shared this comment with a friend of mine who is a converted Jew. He was born in Russia after his parents were released from a Communist prison. With the help of the Israeli underground, his family escaped from behind the Iron Curtain. He received Orthodox Jewish training while living in Germany from 1947 to 1951 and then his family immigrated to New York. He is a dedicated servant of Christ and a respected author. When told about Sproul Jr.’s comment “Here we are. [We are the Jews]” he commented, “It’s a good thing he was not declaring this on the streets of Berlin, Germany around 1941!”
2. The usage of the term “Jew” in the Bible.
The terms “Jew” and “Jews” are used in the Bible hundreds of times and these terms always refer to ethnic Jews (Israelites, in contrast to Gentiles). The term "Jews" never refers to Gentiles. It can refer to saved Jews who are members of the church (Romans 2:29) but it never refers to the church as a whole. It never refers to saved Gentiles of this present age. R. C. Sproul Jr., unless he can rightly claim to be descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has no right to call himself a Jew.
Romans 2:29 is sometimes understood to mean that a believer is a "Jew inwardly." This is to misunderstand the passage. Paul is delineating the difference between unsaved Jews (a Jew who is one outwardly) and saved Jews (a Jew who is one inwardly)--Romans 2:28-29. It’s one thing being a RACIAL JEW; its another thing to be a REGENERATED JEW (a real Jew, in a fulfilled sense). What is on the inside is what really counts. In verse 28, Paul is talking about a Jew (not a Gentile) who is a Jew outwardly. He has been circumcised and he is a descendant of Abraham, but he is not a believer (his heart is not right with God). He is a Jew outwardly and physically, but he is not a Jew inwardly and spiritually. In verse 29, Paul is talking about a Jew (not a Gentile) who is a Jew inwardly. That is, he is a Jew who believes in God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. He is not only a child of Abraham, but he is a child of God. In this passage Paul is not teaching that a believing Gentile is a Jew inwardly (a spiritual Jew). This whole section in Romans 2 (verses 17-29) is about the Jew. Paul's main point is that being a Jew outwardly (being circumcised, being a child of Abraham, etc.) does not save a person.
3. 1 Corinthians 10:32.
The New Testament makes is very clear that our present world is divided into three categories: “Give no offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32). We can summarize these three categories as follows:
1) Jews=unsaved Jews
2) Gentiles=unsaved Gentiles
3) Church of God=saved Jews and saved Gentiles
Sproul Jr., as a saved Gentile, can only belong to one category, as defined by this verse. According to God's classification revealed through Paul, He is not a Jew, but he is a member of the “church of God.”
4. What saith the Scriptures?
Notice that Sproul Jr. offers no Biblical support for his assertion that a saved Gentile can claim the term “Jew” for himself. Of course, a person can call himself anything he wants. Sproul Jr. can call himself an Eskimo, a Jew or a platypus, but saying it does not make it so. If we follow God’s definition of a Jew, confirmed by hundreds of passages, then Sproul Jr. certainly does not qualify.
5. “The Israel of God.”
There, we are all together, the Israel of God. Sproul Jr. not only claims to be a Jew, but here he claims to be an Israelite. The term “Israel” is used in the New Testament 73 times. It is most often used of ethnic Israel. It is never used of the Church in general or of Gentile believers in particular. Reformed theologians understand “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16 to be a reference to the church (including saved Gentiles) but see the following article: The Use of the Term "Israel" in the N.T. with special focus on Galatians 6:16 [PDF Version]. For a true Biblical definition of an Israelite see Romans 9:3-5.
6. Is the church “Plan B”?
We deny that the church is God’s “plan B.” This is a false accusation that is commonly hurled at dispensationalists. This too is answered in the following document: False Charges Against Dispensationalism.
7. Is the parenthesis concept unbiblical?
We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis. The reason dispensationalists believe in the concept of a parenthesis is based on the plain statements of Scripture. The prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27 is a key to understanding the parenthetical nature of this present age. Israel’s history from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the second coming of Messiah is incorporated in the 70 Week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. We know that Messiah was cut off (referring to His violent death) after the 69th week, and we know from the book of Revelation, Matthew 24 and other Scripture passages that the 70th week is yet future and represents the final seven years before the Messiah returns to the earth. Between the 69th and 70th weeks is a “gap” of nearly 2000 years, during which time God has been building His Church (Matthew 16:18) and “visiting the nations to take out of them a people for His Name” (Acts 15:14). It is highly significant that this 70-Week prophecy of Daniel, while detailing the history of God’s people—“seventy weeks are determined upon thy people” (Dan. 9:24)—has nothing to say about a period of history which is now known to consist of nearly two millennia. When this remarkable “gap” or “parenthesis” is integrated with Daniel’s great chronological prophecy, the interpreter is forced to distinguish two histories: 1) the stated history of Israel (490 years); 2) the unstated, parenthetical history of the Church (already nearly 2000 years). God has a distinct history or program for Israel as well as a distinct history or program for His Church. The two programs harmonize perfectly but do not interfere one with the other, nor do they overlap in time. The Church age in its entirety falls in the period of time after the conclusion of the 69th week and before the beginning of the 70th week. R. C. Sproul Jr. accuses dispensationalists of teaching that we are now living in a parenthesis, and we gladly plead guilty to such a charge. In light of the Scripture evidence, how can we believe otherwise? We would welcome Sproul Jr. to present his understanding of the 70 week prophecy found in Daniel 9.
It is much easier to believe that there is a parenthesis between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9:24-26 then it is to believe that most or all prophecies were fulfilled in 70 A.D., the common view of Reformed theology (preterism). See: The Great Tribulation - Future or Fulfilled?
R. C. Sproul Jr. is not is not a Jew at all. He is a saved Gentile, a member of the church of God and
one who has terribly misused Biblical terminology. R. C. Sproul Jr. is not an
Israelite. Rather he is a
Reformed theologian who believes, contrary to Biblical usage, that he is a spiritual Israelite. He
maligns dispensationalists who only desire to use terms according to their Biblical definition and
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