Dispensationalism Then & Now, Part 2

(From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read Part 1.)

A Renewed Understanding of Hermeneutics

My personal concerns have to do with some of the new proposals for a dispensational approach to the Bible, i.e., a critique of some of the structural points that hitherto were not characteristic of dispensational thought. One major principle will be discussed here—biblical hermeneutics. There are other factors that could be dealt with profitably as well.

Principles of Biblical interpretation are the first order of concerns in structuring a doctrine or a comprehensive method of interpreting the Bible, foundational to correct exegesis itself. Often the order is reversed. It is often asserted with vigor that Biblical hermeneutics must come from interpreting the Bible itself, i.e., a simple matter of exegesis. But this appears to be a circular procedure, i.e., using hermeneutical principles on the Bible in order to find the Bible’s hermeutical principles (to be used on the Bible). Read more about Dispensationalism Then & Now, Part 2

Dispensationalism Then & Now, Part 1

Detail from the cover of a Scofield Reference Bible (ca. 1917)

(From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.)

In early 1992, I was invited by Dr. Ernest Pickering, pastor of Fourth Baptist Church and president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, to participate in the annual Founders Conference in the seminary. He expressed an opinion that we needed “a clear call on the subject of dispensationalism.” I was honored to be asked and was delighted to go. I suppose there is never a time when we do not need to refresh ourselves on doctrinal truth, especially the distinctives of dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism is simply an approach to understanding the overall storyline of the Bible. As a set of systematized principles and teachings it began about 1825 with John Nelson Darby. However, there were unsystematized principles of a dispensational nature long before him. There has been refinement and modification over the years in dispensational thought. Revision, reevaluation and more precise statement are always ongoing in theology and biblical studies.

A brief historical outline of general dispensational thinking is given here, followed by a discussion of one major area that calls for clarification and/or a renewed understanding. Read more about Dispensationalism Then & Now, Part 1

The Temples

Southern wall of the temple mount enclosure ("second temple").

Many religions had multiple temples, but God revealed a different standard: He only permitted one central sanctuary. Deuteronomy 12:5 (ESV) states, “But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go.” In contrast, an altar was to be built wherever God made an appearance (Exodus 20:24), but not a building. Only certain types of sacrifices could be made upon these local altars.

Although there are many physical and spiritual aspects to the Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, for example), we must limit our focus.

Preventing Confusion: The Temple vs. the Synagogue

Modern Judaism does not use the term “temple” in the same way the Bible does. Jewish congregations often name their synagogues (meeting places) with the title “temple.” Temple Shalom would be an example. In actuality, these synagogues are not temples in the Biblical sense. In the Biblical sense, the Jewish people have not had their Temple since 70 AD. Read more about The Temples

When Pastors Place Their Nose Where It Doesn’t Belong

Several decades ago as Jay Adams and men like him began writing on the topic of biblical counseling, conservative pastors gained a needed and necessary foothold in the area of the psyche (ψυχή), or care for the soul.

For a decade or so before the birth of what was called nouthetic counseling, conservative churchmen were buying the notion that you could not take the pastor anything dealing with the mind because he simply was not qualified. Thankfully, biblical counseling has restored the right appreciation for the pastor’s role of leadership in the area of mental, emotional and spiritual health vs. idea that only secular psychology can help in the various challenges of anthropology. 

A few years ago I noted in my book The Pyramid and the Box: The Decision-Making Process in a Local New Testament Church (Wipf & Stock, 2013), that I was seeing a couple of disturbing trends among ecclesiastical leaders, especially from my perspective as Western Coordinator for Institute of Biblical Leadership (IBL). Some pastors are self-deceived that they are something of a mediator of a theocracy, and in their mind, they are Theo! Read more about When Pastors Place Their Nose Where It Doesn’t Belong

What Is Forgiveness?

(From Theologically Driven. Used with permission.)

In the past few months I have encountered several conflicting ideas about forgiveness in unexpected counseling situations. Nor is the confusion confined to the uninformed or immature.

The biblical idea of forgiveness is an elusive one that is often missed entirely or sometimes mixed with other ideas—ideas that are not necessarily bad, but that are not exactly what the Bible is trying to convey by its use of the word forgiveness, either. Note the following: Read more about What Is Forgiveness?

Review - Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption

Originally posted at Proclaim & Defend, used by permision.

BJU Press recently released Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, a new textbook for Christian schools. It’s intended audience is the twelfth grade and would be taught in a Bible or Religion classroom. The writing is geared for the high school level and often touches on such subjects as “What will you do with your life (now that you have this information)?” Those of us who approach the subject many years removed from high school may find these references nostalgic.

Mark Ward is the Lead Author for the book. Mark now works for FaithLife in Bellingham, WA. You can follow Mark’s writing here and he writes a monthly column in our FrontLine magazine. Mark informs me that he hopes one day that the book might be published in a trade paperback edition which would likely lower the cost and target a more general audience. Read more about Review - Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption

Dealing With Loss: A Hero Named Larry

I have always appreciated the old hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” The melody is hauntingly beautiful. The words are especially touching, as they were written while Spafford was crossing the Atlantic when he was near the place where his four daughters died after the vessel in which they were traveling was involved in a collision at sea.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I can barely sing these words without tears welling up. Imagine the faith Spafford must have had to pen these words—especially in that place and at that time. Imagine how he must have suffered and agonized on his journey to being able to speak like that. He must have known God’s word well, to be able to lean on God’s promises like he seemed to do. Read more about Dealing With Loss: A Hero Named Larry

What A Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 3)

(Read the series so far.)

Here I continue sharing my reflections on how Paul guided Timothy when he was facing discouragement, from the book of 2 Timothy. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. I address these to others, but first to myself.

9. Remind and challenge people not to “strive about words to no profit.” (2 Tim. 2:14)

Sometimes a pastor’s discouragement comes because there is disunity in the church, or a lack of commitment to the core truths that we all hold in common. People can become divided over secondary or even relatively minor issues. This may be a signal to the pastor that he should speak to the church family about focusing on the fundamental truths of Scripture and on the person and work of Christ. Read more about What A Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 3)