One of the issues I often come back to in seeking to understand the overarching flavor of various theologians is the way in which Israel as the people of God functions within their various theologies. I suggest a couple preliminary points about how one’s theology of Israel affects one’s overall theology, particularly ecclesiology.
First, how one views Israel will largely determine how they view the nature of redemption and the church. If our understanding of Israel is a purely intrumental one, namely that Yahweh elects Israel merely for the purpose of fixing the fallen creation, then our ecclesiology is likely to be fundamentally instrumental as well. Israel and the church are viewed as means to other ends, rather than as loci of God’s action and presence. On these readings, God’s work in salvation history is really something other than what is happening in Israel and the church. They may witness to that other end, or be some sort of tool in God’s toolbox to get the world there, but they do not really participate in, or embody that end.
Second, how one views the way in which the church’s identity is mediated through Israel will largely determine the political character of the church polity and practice. If the (largely Gentile) church understands itself as being grafted into the reality of Israel through the Spirit, it will understand its own polity in a fundamentally Israel-like way. Most specifically this view of ecclesial identity inclines the church towards a diasporic self-understanding. On the contrary, a supercessionist view in which the church replaces Israel as the people of God tends to find the church’s idenity mediated through other political structures, such as the state. This is to suggest that how one understands the continuity of Israel and the church will largely determine how one views the political identity and practice of the church in the world.