95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 2

This is part 2, the first week of actual critique of the 19th century theological invention known as imagesdispensationalism. The introduction can be found here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/03/95-theses-against-dispensationalism/ Following are the first ten theses from the NiceneCouncil.com’s concise but thorough examination of the critical errors with the theological system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is, like most other systems, not comprised of a monolithic group who all believe alike. So please bear in mind this series in not an attack on any person, but an examination of a system.

1. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ claim that their system is the result of a “plain interpretation” (Charles Ryrie) of Scripture, it is a relatively new innovation in Church history, having emerged only around 1830, and was wholly unknown to Christian scholars for the first eighteen hundred years of the Christian era.

2. Contrary to the dispensationalist theologians’ frequent claim that “premillennialism is the historic faith of the Church” (Charles Ryrie), the early premillennialist Justin Martyr states that “many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.” Premillennialist Irenaeus agreed. A primitive form of each of today’s three main eschatological views existed from the Second Century onward. (See premillennialist admissions by D. H. Kromminga, Millennium in the Church and Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology).

3. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ attempt to link its history to that of early premillennial Church Fathers, those ancient premillennialists held positions that are fundamentally out of accord with the very foundational principles of dispensationalism, foundations which Ryrie calls “the linchpin of dispensationalism”, such as (1) a distinction between the Church and Israel (i.e., the Church is true Israel, “the true Israelitic race” (Justin Martyr) and (2) that “Judaism … has now come to an end” (Justin Martyr).

4. Despite dispensationalism’s claim of antiquity through its association with historic premillennialism, it radically breaks with historic premillennialism by promoting a millennium that is fundamentally Judaic rather than Christian.

5. Contrary to many dispensationalists’ assertion that modern-day Jews are faithful to the Old Testament and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Hagee), the New Testament teaches that there is no such thing as “orthodox Judaism.” Any modern-day Jew who claims to believe the Old Testament and yet rejects Christ Jesus as Lord and God rejects the Old Testament also.

6. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ assertion that the early Church was premillennial in its eschatology, “none of the major creeds of the church include premillennialism in their statements” (R.P. Lightner), even though the millennium is supposedly God’s plan for Israel and the very goal of history, which we should expect would make its way into our creeds.

7. Despite the dispensationalists’ general orthodoxy, the historic ecumenical creeds of the Christian Church affirm eschatological events that are contrary to fundamental tenets of premillennialism, such as: (1) only one return of Christ, rather than dispensationalism’s two returns, separating the “rapture” and “second coming” by seven years; (2) a single, general resurrection of all the dead, both saved and lost; and (3) a general judgment of all men rather than two distinct judgments separated by one thousand years.

8. Despite the dispensationalists’ general unconcern regarding the ecumenical Church creeds, we must understand that God gave the Bible to the Church, not to individuals, because “the church of the living God” is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

9. Despite the dispensationalists’ proclamation that they have a high view of God’s Word in their “coherent and consistent interpretation” (John Walvoord), in fact they have fragmented the Bible into numerous dispensational parts with two redemptive programs—one for Israel and one for the Church—and have doubled new covenants, returns of Christ, physical resurrections, and final judgments, thereby destroying the unity and coherence of Scripture.

10. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ commitment to compartmentalizing each of the self-contained, distinct dispensations, the Bible presents an organic unfolding of history as the Bible traces out the flow of redemptive history, so that the New Testament speaks of “the covenants [plural] of the [singular] promise” (Eph 2:12) and uses metaphors that require the unity of redemptive history; accordingly, the New Testament people of God are one olive tree rooted in the Old Testament (Rom 11:17-24).

5 thoughts on “95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 2

  1. I would like to challenge all of you who have read the above, and would accept it as the total and only truth, to apply “good scholarship” and examine the “other side” for yourselves.

    Two books that would greatly help you in this endeavor are, “There Really Is A Difference! A Comparison Of Covenant And Dispensational Theology,” by Renald E.
    Showers.

    The other book for your consideration is “Dispensationalism Today,” by Charles Ryrie. You can most likely find these on “Half.com.”

    For those who might not choose to do so, let me help you by posting one important fact of Biblical theology which dispensationalists tightly hold to; that is the Davidic Covenant, which is basically stated below: (credit is given to Wikipedia)

    DAVIDIC COVENANT

    The Davidic covenant [2Sam 7] establishes David and his descendants as the kings of the united monarchy of Israel [Jer 33:17-21] (which included Judah). The Davidic covenant is an important element in Jewish messianism and Christian theology. In Jewish eschatology, the messiah is believed to be a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be anointed with holy anointing oil, gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, have a male heir, re-institute the Sanhedrin and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age.

    Christian theologian John F. Walvoord maintains that the Davidic covenant deserves an important place in determining the purposes of God and that its exegesis confirms the doctrine of a future reign of Christ on earth. While Jewish theologians have always pointed out that Jesus did not fulfill the expectations of a Jewish messiah, for dispensational conservative Christian theologians the opinion is almost unanimous that Christ fulfills the Davidic covenant, the provisions of which include the following items:

    David is to have a child, yet to be born, who shall succeed him and establish his kingdom.
    A son (Solomon) shall build the temple instead of David.
    The throne of his kingdom shall be established forever.
    The throne will not be taken away from him (Solomon) even though his sins justify chastisement.
    David’s house, throne, and kingdom shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

    PLEASE! I am not looking for a debate, but rather challenging all readers to consider the facts on both sides of the fence before making up their minds.

    Joe.

  2. Joe – Read the entire historical narrative having to do with the temple being built. Nathan gave David the prophecy (1 Chron 17 for example) – a son of David who would rule forever. Moreover, God said He would build the temple, not a man. This lines up with the prophecy from Ezekiel and with Revelation 11 and 20 and myriad other places where the Word of God says His temple is built up of living stones which are His redeemed. God NEVER told anyone to build a stone temple for Him.

    Truth be told, there is NO REASON to read dispensational theology. It’s merely a novelty that sells books and has an unbiblical division between the elect of national Israel and the church.

  3. Joe,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the advice to read some of the best authors of eschaological works. I can say I have read and own copies of the work of Renald E.
    Showers, Charles Ryrie, John F. Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost,Howard G. Hendricks, all are distinguished professors, and men of God. Note I did not include a few other of the Late Great and Left Behind group, but I have read them, I will admit I have mot seen their movies, nor do I care to. I would encourage that you read, if you have not George E Ladd, William E. Bell,Richard J. Krejcir, R. C. Sproul, just as scholarly whom you have mentioned, but who are in a different camp.

    How sure are you that your view is correct? It all comes down to this point: do you read into the text what you want it to say? Or do you read from the text what God’s Word has to say? Most Christians, pastors and professors included, will say they never read into the text of Scripture. So, you have to go before God in sincerity and honesty and seek Him, not your or someone else’s ideas. You have to surrender pride and presumptions to really catch what caught up really means! We have to really read, not assume, or we will get it wrong and thus lead our churches, study groups down the wrong path, making minors the majors and missing the point of our call and duty as a to rightly divide the WORD of TRUTH.

    Perhaps you have already done this. Odd as it may sound it was actually a group of young Christains I was discipling as a youth pastor over 20 years ago, that helped me stop and think about what I was teaching.I firmly believed in the classic dispensational view, a rapture, a seven year tribulation and Millennial reign of Christ. It was “fact” to me without question and a hill I would die upon-until someone challenged my on it. My very own high school youth group to whom I was teaching through the Revelation, kept asking me “where is that? I do not see it! This does not make sense!”
    And I could not answer their questions. I knew how to study the Bible but I was not using my own tools for Revelation or Matthew chapter twenty-four. Instead, I was relying on my prized possession a 1940’s edition of The Scofield Study Bible I received from one of my mentors, my favorite commentaries, one by Dr. John Walvoord and the other by Frank Gaebelein, not to mention I had also mostly memorized Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. I say all that to say this, I stopped and begand to reseach it myself. I came to a different conclusion.

    Just something to think about as a brother in Christ.

  4. My dispensational brothers often unfairly confuse Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism. Conversely my reformed brothers often unfairly confuse dispensationalist with hyper-dispensationalist.
    Not all dispensationalist buy into the two redemptive programs. The dispensational brothers I know believe that neither Jew nor gentile are saved apart from being born from above. They do differ with reformed theologians concerning Romans 11.
    They utterly reject the two redemptive programs of the hypers.
    I find myself scratching my head at some of the positions of both sides. I often see little distinction between the two. For example the definitions the Abrahamic covenant and the Abrahamic dispensation are the same.
    Both sides agree with the principles set forth in Hebrews 11 that from Adam to John the just will live by faith.

  5. Joe…. Do you not believe Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant you outline? Does not Paul in Ephesians 2 and Romans 1 and Jesus himself throughout Matthew,s gospel and Jesus in Luke 4 and the people who shout hosanna to the son of David as he enters Jerusalem not all point us to the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant with the coming of Christ, showing to all that the promise of God to israel was always much larger in scope than the cotemporaries of Jesus ever understood it to be? Was not Paul trying to teach this misunderstanding of the scope of God’s promises in Romans 4 just as Jesus tried to teach his Jewish brothers and sisters time and time again? I truly find myself asking, Joe, have you done the same kind of homework on opposing views about the Davidic covenant that you are asking those who do not agree with you to do? And why would you assume we have not studied the books you have outlined?

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