I am minded that David Pawson, in his book “Defending Christian Zionism”, has noted two extremes of theology regarding Israel.
The first is found among certain, though not all, dispensationalists. This is a view known as dual covenant. It teaches that the Jews will be saved simply because they are Jews. Therefore, there are two methods of salvation. One method is for Gentiles – that of being saved by grace through faith. The other is to be born Jewish. It must be emphasized immediately that most well-known theologians who take a dispensationalist view would reject dual covenant teaching, but there are a substantial number who embrace it.
If the first extreme is to think too highly of the Jews, the second is to think too low. This view s known as replacement theology, because it argues that the Church has replaced Israel, so that Jewish people no longer have any special place in the heart of God. Many well-known theologians, who I woould place in the replacement camp, actually object to the term. They claim that they are not replacement theologians, but continuation theologians. That is to say, they argue that the Church is the continuation of Israel. However, this is playing with words, because, in order to take such a position, they have to reject any special significance for modern Jewish people, having declared that modern Jewry is not the continuation of Old Testament Israel.
Pawson rejects both these extremes. And so does this reviewer.
Into this maelstrom of theologies comes the film “Let the Lion Roar”. The script was written by Derek Frank – a fellow Brit. The film seems to have stirred up a hornets nest of hatred on the social media, which perhaps indicates further the problem of anti-semitic thinking in many evangelical circles.
Those promoting the film are not blameless. Frank's declaration that he believes he is called to “complete the Reformation” is somewhat over the top. Admittedly, he qualifies this in the film. The over-use of hype and irritating gravel voices in the trailer below does the film no service. But it is necessary to look beyond that to the content.
Other commentators take exception to Frank's assertion that God led him to these views by a word of prophecy. However, those who complain at this way of speaking are cessationist, who deny that God speaks in such a way today. I do not make such a denial – indeed, I know from experience and Scripture that God still speaks prophetically, though never adding to His word. One of the tests of a prophetic word is to see whether it points people back to Scripture. This one clearly does, as it led Mr Frank to a lifetime of biblical and historical study.
For some, it seems almost blasphemous to criticize reformers like Luther and Calvin. Yet, these were imperfect men. Many of the critics of “Let the Lion Roar” will happily tell you that Luther and Calvin were wrong about baptism, for example. Frank does not devalue what the Reformation did. At no point does he undermine Luther's 95 theses. Rather, he proposes 5 more. In other words, he criticizes the Reformers on one issue only – that of their rejection of the special position of God's historic people, the Jews. On all the other issues of the Reformation, he affirms them.
The film does not merely criticize Luther and Calvin on this. It gives clear historical reasons why they came to such a view. Although this does not excuse them, it helps us to understand their error.
After all the negative comments on the social media about the film, I came to the film, wondering if I would need to spit out a lot of bones, while eating the meat. I found no significant bones to spit! I recommend this film as a valuable biblical and historical insight into the issue of our theology about Israel and the Jewish people, and a much-needed refutation of replacement theology.
Let the Lion Roar can be purchased here.