Sunday, March 20, 2016

Music 13 - The Doctrine of Replacement

No, I do not believe the church has replaced Israel in God's prophetic timetable. I reject such a position for ecclesiological, eschatological, and hermeneutical reasons. In titling today's post "The Doctrine of Replacement" I run the risk of drawing Reformed gadflies to my blog by the gazillions. Boy, won't they be surprised when they discover it is actually about music…

The scriptural foundation for the doctrine of replacement is found first in Matthew 12. This chapter is one of the key hinge pivots in the arc of Jesus' life, and one I have blogged through elsewhere. At one point in the conversation Jesus likens Israel to a painstakingly clean yet empty house that had subsequently been invaded by evil spirits. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. 

Old Testament Israel constantly struggled with idolatry. The earthly cure for that was the Babylonian Captivity. But in the intervening centuries since Israel's return from the Babylonian Captivity though she had not succumbed again to idolatry on a wide scale she had succumbed to something even worse – a rule-obsessed, outwardly focused religion with no love for God or others in her heart. And in that condition she was actually worse off spiritually speaking then when she was idolatrous.

The interpretation involves the theological bankruptcy of rabbinic Judaism but the application is wider than that. I can sum it up in four words: nature abhors a vacuum.
Just a moment ago I gathered my three children in the kitchen to replicate an experiment I recalled from my high school days. I placed a tablespoon of water into an empty pop can and then placed the can on a stove burner. After boiling the water out of the can I picked it up with tongs and plunged it immediately into a pan filled with cold water. As the can hit the water it instantaneously crumpled to the astonished ooh's and ah's of my children. Why? Because as the steam in the can rose it pushed the air out. Plunging it immediately upside down into cold water condensed the steam back to a liquid creating a vacuum. The external air pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch did the rest in the blink of an eye. As I said, nature abhors a vacuum.

This is as patently true in the spiritual world as it is in the physical world. If you kick the bad out of your life and do not replace it with good all you have done is make yourself a target for something worse to take its place. In other words, the doctrine of replacement instructs us that a wise man will not only eliminate the wrong influences from his life; he will immediately turn around and replace them with the right influences – because if he does not he will wind up worse off then when he started. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (II Peter 2.20)

This is a key principle especially for young people or new converts to learn. For example, they must needs rid themselves of the evil influences in their life such as immoral companions, but once those have been lain aside they must be replaced with new friends, friends that will point the soul in the direction of God and right.

This principle is found repeatedly from one end of the Bible to the other. For instance consider these:
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good;…
Psalm 37:27 Depart from evil, and do good;…
Isaiah 1:16-17 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Romans 12:9 …Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
1Peter 3:11 Let him eschew evil, and do good;…
3John 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good…

In the past four months I have spent nearly 25,000 words on this blog diligently seeking to persuade you to identify and avoid the wrong kind of music. But if that is all you do you will fail. Parent, you are right to throw out your children's rock music. You are right to police their mp3 player and their Spotify stream. But if you do not now lead them to replace that evil music with good music all you have done is create a vacuum – and nature abhors a vacuum. Do not be surprised if your attempt at musical purity collapses. It is guaranteed to do so if you do not learn to practice the doctrine of replacement.

No comments:

Post a Comment