What is a "Dispensationalist" Theology?

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A Dispensationalist is a Christian who sees in Scripture certain clear divisions in the progress of revelation in which God governs history. At its best this is done on the basis of the covenants revealed in the Bible. A “dispensation” (Greek, oikonomia) is an administration or economy, wherein, within a certain period of time (known to God, but afterwards revealed to man), God pursues His plan through the lives of men. The term oikonomia is made up of two other words: oikos, meaning house, and nemo, meaning to administer, manage, or dispense. Literally, an oikonomia is a house-management or household administration. In its theological usage it is well suited to describe what we might call a divine economy. This is much the way the word is used in Ephesians 1:10; 3:2, 9; Colossians 1:25-26, and 1 Timothy 1:4. These passages also show that Paul held to the reality of certain dispensations in the broad sense given above.

Not unsurprisingly therefore, even Covenant theologians often speak of dispensations. For example, both Charles Hodge and Louis Berkhof employ the term much like Dispensationalists do. Willem VanGemeren speaks of “epochs.” The number of these administrations is open to debate. Though commonly held, the seven dispensations articulated by C. I. Scofield are not the requisite number in order to be admitted into the ranks of Dispensationalist thinkers. The present writer, for instance, questions the theological value of some of these “economies” except perhaps as markers helping one trace the flow of God’s acts in biblical history.

Plain-Sense Interpretation

A characteristic of Dispensational theology is the consistent use of what is called the “grammatico-historical” method of interpretation. Here ‘consistent’ applies in principle, although not always in practice. Whether dealing with biblical narrative, or poetry, or prophetic literature, the Dispensationalist applies the same hermeneutics to each genre. This certainly does not mean that the genre is ignored; clearly, for example, so-called apocalyptic literature is not the same as historical writing or wisdom literature. But Dispensational scholars do not believe that one needs to change hermeneutical horses midstream when one passes, say, from Matthew 23, (Gospel narrative), to Matthew 24-25, (which many scholars would describe as apocalyptic or at least prophetic). They believe that exploring the grammatical sense of a passage within its context, and throwing whatever historical light they can upon a text, will yield the intended meaning. To drift away from this is to get caught up in the currents of the academic fads of the day; whatever is or is not in vogue should not dictate biblical interpretation.

The supposition of the Dispensationalist includes a belief in the full inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, together with a belief that the propositional nature of Scripture. Propositionalism is best adapted when a statement indicates a “literal” or plain sense. Thus, Dispensationalists are adherents of propositional revelation—a position that is being affirmed less and less within the conservative community, as scholars make biblical interpretation more the province of the specialist than the “common man.”

The Importance of the Covenants of Scripture

Essential to the theology of all classic Dispensationalists are the Covenants of Scripture. These are the explicit and clearly recognizable covenants defined in the pages of the Bible. They include the Noahic Covenant; the Abrahamic Covenant; the Land Covenant; the Mosaic Covenant (which has been terminated); the Priestly Covenant; the Davidic Covenant; and the New Covenant. The principal biblical covenant for most Dispensationalists is the Abrahamic, out of which come those which follow. Because most of these are unilateral in nature (i.e. they were promises made solely by God and given to men) they cannot be rescinded or altered, since God can always be counted on to do just what He promises. Still, they may, like treaties generally, be supplemented by additional though never contradictory statements. An example of this would be the additional clarifications of the Abrahamic Covenant that one notices when reading Genesis 15 through Genesis 22.

The consistent application of the grammatico-historical method to these biblical contracts made by God with men leads to certain specific and undeniable expectations. Among these expectations is the one which, perhaps more than any other, distinguishes Dispensationalism from its main evangelical alternative, Covenant Theology. This distinguishing feature is the belief that there remains a set of incontrovertible promises given to the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (“the Fathers,” Rom. 11:26-29).

These promises, confirmed as they were by irrevocable Divine Covenant (see especially Gen. 15 and Jer. 33:15-26), must be brought to a literal fulfillment; a fulfillment which includes a physical land, and a king on a literal throne in earthly Jerusalem. As far as Israel’s inheritance of these promises is concerned, any future restoration of Israel to their land will not be apart from the new birth (Ezek. 36:21-28; Rom. 11:5, 25-29). But the Divine favor for this “remnant” of ethnic Israel is based on God’s gracious unconditional promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob mediated through Christ via the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).

The Name “Dispensationalism”

It is because of the significance of these biblical Covenants that “Dispensationalism” is a rather unfortunate name. If it were not for the fact that it might cause some confusion with what is called “Covenant Theology” Dispensationalism would be more accurately identified as “Biblical Covenantalism.” Indeed, pursuing that idea and its ramifications has been a preoccupation of the present writer for several years.

This covenantal aspect of Dispensational theology can lend to it a powerful eschatological and teleological force, but this has not always been placed under the correct theological or hermeneutical controls. One example of this is the popular success of writers like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, authors who concentrate only on a populist approach to eschatology and who do not do justice to the whole discipline which is (or at least could be) Dispensational systematic theology.

Sad to relate, but much of Dispensationalism over the past fifty years has been held captive to this type of non-technical eschatological treatment. This has meant that serious development of Dispensational theology at the levels of exegesis, theological method, and philosophical explication has suffered greatly. Perhaps the most detrimental outcome of all this in terms of the thinking of many Dispensationalists has been the lack of exploration of the worldview implications of a full-orbed Dispensational systematic theology. This will be treated in another post.

Ed Vasicek's picture
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Well done, thank you

Paul, I appreciate this fine summary of traditional dispensationalism.  I agree with you that the name is unfortunate.  In a day when the aura of words is crucial, we seem to be losing the battle in that regard. We need to repackage ourselves.  I personally prefer the idea of "Faithfulness to Jacob" or "Faithfulness Theology."  That's what it is about.

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"

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Thanks Ed

Thanks Ed (and the answer is yes on your query)  Smile

 

P.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

alex o.'s picture
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dispensationalism is worthless

Since it implies different methods of salvation.

In my thinking it is better to recognize a Covenant of Works which the first Adam failed and the Last Adam fulfilled (see Ro.5).

The Covenant of Grace is God, in love, choosing to redeem some, at least in my mind.

I can still believe in a Pre-Millennial 2nd Advent and not conflate the Church with the promises yet to be fulfilled to Israel without subscribing to Dispy.

I can also interpret the bible in a straight forward manner without Dispy. Just because some Cov. theologians get allegorical in their reading and interpreting doesn't negate the concept of the Covenant of Works or Grace.

Mt.12.29 and Mk.3.27 describes the 'The Big Picture' and The Covenant of Grace (at least in my mind).

Paul, this is your thread and I will let you have the last word.

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Alex,

Alex,

It's difficult to say much to this.  The phrase "to my mind" can mean many things.  This article by my friend Tony Garland may set you right on your opening statement: Does Dispensationalism Teach Two Ways of Salvation?

God bless,

 

Paul H.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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nothing cyrptic beyond normal

Paul,

All I mean to say "in my mind" is that I am not at this time being dogmatic about it and am open to different ideas if you can prove me wrong. These are recent convictions from readings of how I understand 'The Big Picture'. To me that is what we are talking about when speaking about Dispensationalism or Covenant Theology- how to approach God's disclosure in the Bible and redemption as a whole, the big picture if you will.

I'll take a look at Tony Garland's article, thanks for the link.

Of course there are epoch and ages but it does one no good to look at separate trees (epochs) without regarding the forest (the whole of redemption).

I modified this post, I hope it turns out ok.

Alex

 

 

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With Bible in Hand

Alex,

I certainly don't mind anyone standing back a bit from these theological 'systems' and, with Bible in hand, asking whether what he finds in one is really present in the other.  If that is your position I applaud it.  I do not care to defend Dispensationalism unless it is unfairly represented.  Where it's formulations look shaky I think everyone, whether friend or foe, ought to be open to correction. 

I don't know if you will like the approach I set out in the next piece, but you will see that I am trying to represent the Bible's teaching (falteringly though it may be) rather than raise the standard of Dispensationalism!

 

God bless,

 

Paul 

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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Since it implies different

Since it implies different methods of salvation.

In 1965 (almost fifty years ago), Ryrie answered the charge of multiple ways of salvation by saying, “The positive teaching of dispensational writers is that salvation is always through God’s grace” (Ryrie 1965, 113). In the same work, he says, “The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the requirement for salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations” (Ryrie 1965, 123, emphasis his)

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Larry wrote:

Larry wrote:

Since it implies different methods of salvation.

In 1965 (almost fifty years ago), Ryrie answered the charge of multiple ways of salvation by saying, “The positive teaching of dispensational writers is that salvation is always through God’s grace” (Ryrie 1965, 113). In the same work, he says, “The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the requirement for salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations” (Ryrie 1965, 123, emphasis his)

 

Larry,

If Charles Ryrie means that saving faith is given in grace, I agree. Where I differ with him via your quote (I don't know how accurate your use of his writings), is on the "content" of faith. Yes, there is a progression of understanding and specific detail but the content has not changed: a sin offering of the firstborn of the flock or herd (see Cain and Able). The first prophecy was given at the judgment after The Fall in a parable: The Lord (Seed of the woman) would die (a serpent's bite), who would eventually crush the serpent's head. Don't get hung up on the order of occurrence of Gen. 3.15.

 

Larry, on a different matter than this thread, I have failed to counter your assertions on the "evil" of the effects of alcohol, forgive me. I will yet deal with you and Mr. Harding in a different thread whether the "cheeseburger" one or another. I think both of you are misguided.

 

I will come back to this thread probably Mon./Tues. as my weekend is full.

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Where I differ with him via

Where I differ with him via your quote (I don't know how accurate your use of his writings), is on the "content" of faith.

As an aside, before calling dispensationalism worthless, it might be valuable to read some dispensationalists and see what they say. It might not convince you, but it would at least be informative. Ryrie's work now was republished as Dispensationalism and was published in 1995 (I think). There are many other good resources available as well. Michael Vlach has a couple of good books, as well as some others.

To the issue of content, no one doubts that the content of saving faith today is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as a substitute for sinners. Can you, by using the Bible, show that the content of OT saving faith was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as a substitute for them?

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Do you read what I write?

Larry wrote:

Can you, by using the Bible, show that the content of OT saving faith was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as a substitute for them?

Larry,

Think before you post, you are speaking past me and not really considering what I write.

Christ is the One who judged the Serpent in Gen.3.15 and said he would come by a virgin birth, die and resurrect for fallen humanity thus having the keys of death (to unlock eternal life for believers). All this at the foundations of the world in Gen.3.15. Able later brings a firstborn sacrifice as a sin offering.

How does Ryrie handle Gen.3.15?

Larry I was a dispensationalist before you were born. For the last 20 years, not so much.

About the utility of D., I was being generous with "worthless". If Meredith G. Kline were still alive, he might call it sinister or even dastardly.

 

 

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alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

Since it implies different methods of salvation.

In my thinking it is better to recognize a Covenant of Works which the first Adam failed and the Last Adam fulfilled (see Ro.5).

The Covenant of Grace is God, in love, choosing to redeem some, at least in my mind.

I can still believe in a Pre-Millennial 2nd Advent and not conflate the Church with the promises yet to be fulfilled to Israel without subscribing to Dispy.

I can also interpret the bible in a straight forward manner without Dispy. Just because some Cov. theologians get allegorical in their reading and interpreting doesn't negate the concept of the Covenant of Works or Grace.

Mt.12.29 and Mk.3.27 describes the 'The Big Picture' and The Covenant of Grace (at least in my mind).

Paul, this is your thread and I will let you have the last word.

The implication of different methods of salvation had to do with a poor word order in the 1st edition of the Scofield reference Bible.  Scofield didn't speak for all dispensationalists.  I am not actually certain who wrote that line if it even was Scofield.  By the 2nd edition, the line was gone.  So how long with covenantists perpetuate this error I wonder?

As to the covenant of works/grace/redemption, maybe you can point me to that one verse that mentions any of those covenants.  Since you are quick to ignorantly call something worthless, you must be very well versed in the scriptural support for what you see as the true position.  I ask for a single passage that supports these unnamed covenants that are supposed to be the grid over scripture for understanding.  Please don't appeal to the white portions of the Bible.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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To James K.

 It appears to me that Dispys. are looking for some magical "content" that they can corral the formula.

All through the Bible it states that God does the saving period. The "content" has an important place, but it is God who does all the saving.

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Why? - A Question for Alex

Alex, you say,

Quote:
About the utility of D., I was being generous with "worthless". If Meredith G. Kline were still alive, he might call it sinister or even dastardly.

I am not interested in a fire-fight.  I honestly want to know why you think Dispensationalism is 'worthless.'

 

God bless,

 

Paul

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

alex o.'s picture
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Hi Paul

Paul Henebury wrote:

Alex, you say,

Quote:

About the utility of D., I was being generous with "worthless". If Meredith G. Kline were still alive, he might call it sinister or even dastardly.

 

I am not interested in a fire-fight.  I honestly want to know why you think Dispensationalism is 'worthless.'

 

God bless,

 

Paul

I see continuity through the past ages not a slice and dice packaging of them. Pemillennialism was a doctrine in the early church but Dispy. has only been around 150 years or so. How was the Church of Jesus able to do without Dispy?

​As we go and disciple folks, I just don't see much use for dividing the Bible up so harshly. Everyone sees the ages but most see a continuity which supersedes it.

Most folks too see that all (especially salvation of humanity since God is the One saving) is for God's glory: sola gloria. This is not distinctive to Dispy. Progressive revelation also is wrongly cornered as something unique to D.

Dancing on the head of a pin by angels is maybe not exactly in the league, but maybe close. 

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alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

 It appears to me that Dispys. are looking for some magical "content" that they can corral the formula.

All through the Bible it states that God does the saving period. The "content" has an important place, but it is God who does all the saving.

what does this have to do with anything I said?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

 

Paul Henebury wrote:

 

Alex, you say,

Quote:

About the utility of D., I was being generous with "worthless". If Meredith G. Kline were still alive, he might call it sinister or even dastardly.

 

I am not interested in a fire-fight.  I honestly want to know why you think Dispensationalism is 'worthless.'

 

God bless,

 

Paul

 

 

I see continuity through the past ages not a slice and dice packaging of them. Pemillennialism was a doctrine in the early church but Dispy. has only been around 150 years or so. How was the Church of Jesus able to do without Dispy?

​As we go and disciple folks, I just don't see much use for dividing the Bible up so harshly. Everyone sees the ages but most see a continuity which supersedes it.

Most folks too see that all (especially salvation of humanity since God is the One saving) is for God's glory: sola gloria. This is not distinctive to Dispy. Progressive revelation also is wrongly cornered as something unique to D.

Dancing on the head of a pin by angels is maybe not exactly in the league, but maybe close. 

how did the church of Jesus do without covenantalism, which maybe was formulated a century before DT?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

alex o.'s picture
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To James K.

About covenants: God deals with humans along covenantal lines. So Adam broke a Covenant of Works when he failed. This is clearly brought out by Romans 5 where Christ fulfilled in what Adam failed. Christ was righteous in His life perfectly and this is what (righteousness) is transferred to our account at salvation.

Since God, in grace, does all the saving, this implies a gracious covenant.

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Thanks Alex

I do sympathize with you (even if you might be accused of overgeneralizing).  As I have said before, the dispensations are descriptive, not prescriptive.  That is why they are poor soil for developing a theology.  You really can't develop anything from them.  My follow-up piece tries to forge a different path by focusing on the covenants clearly revealed in Scripture.

While i am an adherent of much in Dispensationalism, I do not see 'dispensations' as overly important.

 

P

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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More study needed...

Alex,

Perhaps you should read some of these works to understand that dispensationalism has been around for more than 150 years. 

Pierre Poirot, L’Économie Divine (Amsterdam, 1687; translated and printed in English in London, 1713).

John Edwards, A Complete History or Survey of All the Dispensations and Methods of Religion (London: Daniel Brown, 1699).

Isaac Watts, The Works of The Rev Isaac Watts (Leeds: Edward Baines, 1810) 3: 333.  Watts dispensational thought goes back to late 1600's early, 1700's.

KML

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not compelling evidence KML

KLengel wrote:

Alex,

Perhaps you should read some of these works to understand that dispensationalism has been around for more than 150 years. 

Pierre Poirot, L’Économie Divine (Amsterdam, 1687; translated and printed in English in London, 1713).

John Edwards, A Complete History or Survey of All the Dispensations and Methods of Religion (London: Daniel Brown, 1699).

Isaac Watts, The Works of The Rev Isaac Watts (Leeds: Edward Baines, 1810) 3: 333.  Watts dispensational thought goes back to late 1600's early, 1700's.

KML

Hi KML,

While there may have been some here and there, how developed was their dispensationalism? I don't think it was really developed very well until Darby. What did the church lack without D.? I agree with Dr. Henebury about its utility-not all that useful compared with other teachings in scripture.

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Alex, you didn't answer James

Alex, you didn't answer James' objection. The same argument you are using against D can be used against CT--that in light of 2000 years of church history, it is a fairly recent development. The fact that organized CT beats D by a century or more doesn't negate the argument. What did the church ever do without it until the 16th-17th centuries?

------------------------------
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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

About covenants: God deals with humans along covenantal lines. So Adam broke a Covenant of Works when he failed. This is clearly brought out by Romans 5 where Christ fulfilled in what Adam failed. Christ was righteous in His life perfectly and this is what (righteousness) is transferred to our account at salvation.

Since God, in grace, does all the saving, this implies a gracious covenant.

Alex, you are not addressing what is being asked of you.  I do not divide human history by the dispensations.  They are helpful to see epochs of time, but the markers in history are the covenants.  So I agree with you that God deals with humans along covenantal lines.  However, I don't have to invent (or follow the invention of others) a covenant of works.  The scripture never mentions such a covenant.  I notice you say that God doing all the saving implies a covenant.  Are you really telling me that I should embrace 2 covenants that are not explicitly taught as the overall theme of scripture?  Think about that.  At least the dispensationalist has tried to pull out consistent time periods that are actually in the text.

Romans 5 never mentions a covenant of works.  I prefer to exegete what God actually wrote rather than dealing with speculative covenants.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

alex o.'s picture
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not a full-blown CT

Greg Long wrote:

Alex, you didn't answer James' objection. The same argument you are using against D can be used against CT--that in light of 2000 years of church history, it is a fairly recent development. The fact that organized CT beats D by a century or more doesn't negate the argument. What did the church ever do without it until the 16th-17th centuries?

Hi Greg,

The covenant of works and grace make sense to me but that doesn't really make me a covenant theologian, at least in my mind. Maybe I am, but don't know it. What do you think?

I have problems with CT, NCT, D., and progressive D. I don't fully agree with any of them. I believe a Covenant of Works is clearly implied theologically to answer James. To me it seems necessary to have positive righteousness and not merely have sins forgiven from reading scripture. Regardless, I don't want to go around in circles arguing the point. I am busy tomorrow but will look in Wed. but not to wrangle needlessly.

 

 

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A couple thoughts...

Paul, 

I believe that you left out the most important part of Ryrie's Sine Qua Non, and that is that the purpose of life is to give glory to God.  I would disagree with Ryrie, in that, I believe that a consistent, normal, grammatical-historical approach to Scripture will always result in a dispensational metanarrative.  It (the hermeneutical approach) is not a characteristic of dispensationalism, but the proper use of this exegetical approach itself reveals the dispensational metanarrative to us.  The biblical covenants are the story in front of the dispensational metanarrative, and the covenants reveal the actual details by which the metanarrative is validated.  

This is very different from Covenant Theology, which creates theological constructs to support its archaic system, creating "covenants" not found in the Bible to be known as covenants, but calling them such anyways.  Michael Harbin wrote the following on CT: "Covenant theology is built on a weak hermeneutical base which consists of theological constructs. These constructs were established during the 17th century by serious scholars who no doubt genuinely sought to understand God’s Word and how it fits together. But it was done without sufficient evaluation of the basic issue of authority and hermeneutical foundations.​"  

Finally, I cannot see why Biblical Covenantalism would be an accurate name because that would leave out the Church age, for the believers who are a part of the dispensation of the churches are only ministers of, not partakers of this covenant yet.  As someone who draws a very distinct line between Israel and the mystery of the church, I only see the New Covenant having been ratified, but not inaugurated.  In addition, the name also leaves out the glory of God, which is the ultimate sine qua non.

KML

 

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Some Responses

Thanks for your questions.  I have little time but let me say a few things by way of clarification.

1. First, of the three sine qua non of Dispensationalism (Ryrie) the glory of God is the most difficult to defend.  The reason for this is because I simply cannot find this "essential" in the works of Dispensationalists (apart from those who simply parrot Ryrie).  Hardly anyone mentions it!  Moreover, a chorus of CT's will object because the work of Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Kuyper, Cornelius Van Til etc. has spelled out the glory of God far more pointedly and profoundly than any Dispensationalist I know.  

Why is the doxological principle an essential of DT?  and how is it essential?  

As far as Biblical Covenantalism goes, its Christocentricity (sorry about the word) requires that the glory of God is a major plank of its outworking.  See more on this in the follow-up where I deal with Systematic Theology and Worldview.

On your last point I would say that, with respect, you are not employing consistent hermeneutics when reading Lk. 22:14-20 or 1 Cor. 11:23-26.  Christ's blood is the "blood of the New Covenant" you have been saved with (which is why you are not under the Law).  He mediates the New Covenant now.  Not with Israel for sure, since those OT prophecies have yet to be fulfilled; but with the Church.  You say, "believers who are a part of the dispensation of the churches are only ministers of, not partakers of this covenant yet."  This alludes to 2 Cor. 3:6 which refers to Paul and Timothy as ministers.  Contextually the message they are ministering as "ministers of the new covenant" is the Gospel (2:12; 4:3-4).  The old saw about us not being participators in the New Covenant comes from Dispensationalists not taking their own affirmations seriously enough.  Why would Jeremiah speak of the Church?  He wouldn't.  He didn't know what it was!  He prophesied about Israel.  So even though Jesus and Paul could refer us to Jeremiah, we do not look to Jeremiah to find out whether we are in the New Covenant.  we look to Jesus and Paul, and their testimony is unambiguous.  

God bless,

 

Paul H.   

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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To God be the Glory...

Paul, 

The overarching theme of God's revelation is that God desires man, creation, angels, all to give glory to Him.  In order to do that, redemption plays a big part with man, but angels give God glory, creation gives God glory, etc.  I think we look at it differently. You look at it from the perspective, why must glory to God be a sine qua non of dispensationalism.  I look at it differently.  My hermeneutical method of normal, grammatical historical interpretation leads me to see all things point back to the glory of God as the center of God's revelation.  Not the redemption of man, not man's sanctification, etc., regardless how important these too are.  These are merely subthemes of the larger theme of God's glory.  As God progressively revealed Himself to man, man learned more and more how he should give glory to God.

Shame on dispensationalists who don't write on the glory of God, but I think some do see the glory of God as the overarching theme of the Scriptures and write about it. Here's a good article on it.   http://systematicsmatters.blogspot.com/2011/02/sine-qua-non-and-doxologi...

As for the New Covenant, do you believe in One Covenant or Two, and who is the recipient of the New Covenant?  We can agree to disagree but I do not believe the New Covenant was made for Gentiles, only Israel.   I think Chris Cone wrote an excellent work on this topic: "Hermeneutical Ramifications Of Applying The New Covenant To The Church: An Appeal To Consistency."  I would agree with him that while one cannot perhaps prove the superiority of the SCIO view, it is the most consistent to a normal grammatical-historical hermeneutic.  

For His glory,

KML

 

 

     

 

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Brother,

Brother,

You don't appear to have really thought through what I said above.  I do not think the glory of God is only redemptive.  I would side with all Dispensationalists in that the glory of God has to do with all Creation.  But I want to ask DT's to actually prove that doxology is ESSENTIAL to the system.  As I said, many (in fact, most) DT's do not make much of it at all.  So I ask again; how is it essential to Dispensationalism?  Snoeberger's article does not address this question.  It merely asserts what both of us would agree on. 

Last time I pointed out to you that you had certain assumptions which caused you not to see what Jesus and Paul were saying.  You still have those lenses fixed to your nose so you brush aside what I said above as if the Bible is silent on the issue.  But brother, what you or I prefer to think about the New Covenant is not the issue.  We must have biblical warrant for our opinions.  I have provided you briefly with mine. 

May I respectfully ask you to study this post which identifies Christ AS the New Covenant! - http://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/christ-at-the-center-pt-2c/

You say the New Covenant is made with Israel, and you will cite Jer. 31 etc.  I say it is made with the Church and I cite Lk. 22, 1 Cor. 11 & 2 Cor. 3.  Please recall that the Church is built on the foundation of the the men who Jesus spoke the words "this is my blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you."  These men are the foundation stones of the Church (Eph. 2:20).  Why would you accept Jeremiah and reject Paul and maintain you are using a consistent hermeneutic? 

I know Chris well and applaud some of his work.  But we disagree on things, and this is one of them. 

I have tried to spell out why Dispensationalism needs to look at itself circumspectly.  I cannot say I'm very hopeful, but I'm giving it a try!

 

God bless you and yours.

 

Paul H

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

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2 Cor 6:14-18

2 Cor 6:14-18

14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does God's sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 17 Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. 18 I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.

2 Cor 7:1

1 Therefore dear friends, since we have such promises, we should wash ourselves clean from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, making our sanctification complete in the fear of God.

Paul is arguing that the NC promises he quoted are the present possession of the gentile believers.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Alex, To get a couple of

Alex, To get a couple of things out of the way:

  1. I do read your posts, and I do think before posting.
  2. Changing your mind from dispensationalism is irrelevant, since people change their minds all the time, even from right to wrong.
  3. I don't know what Ryrie said about Gen 3:15 and I am not sure why that matters.
  4. "Worthless" is not generous, particularly for a solid and well-supported view of much of Bible-believing Christianity, and whatever Kline might say about it doesn't help either.

In the end, all of that is a distraction. Let's get back to the issue:

Christ is the One who judged the Serpent in Gen.3.15 and said he would come by a virgin birth, die and resurrect for fallen humanity thus having the keys of death (to unlock eternal life for believers). All this at the foundations of the world in Gen.3.15. Able later brings a firstborn sacrifice as a sin offering.

To repeat myself, can you, from Genesis 3:15 and antecedent revelation, demonstrate anything that you have said about Christ above that makes Christ the content of faith for the people of that time? If you only had Genesis 3:15 and nothing past that, what would someone (Adam and Eve) need to believe to be saved?

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On the topic of the church

On the topic of the church and the new covenant, I commend Bruce Compton's article in the DBSJ: http://dbts.edu/journals/2003/Compton.pdf

He deals with all of the options and makes a good case that the church participates in the new covenant, but the new covenant is fulfilled with Israel.

It is worth noting that every single NT reference to the new covenant only references part of it, not the whole thing. That is, or at least should be, instructive in understanding i.

On the topic of the doxological principle, isn't the point of that to contrast the covenantal focus on the redemptive motif? Dispensationalism does not argue that others don't hold up the glory of God or pursue it. But most covenantalists focus on the redemptive motif as the main organizing principle of Scripture and human history, whereas dispensationalists focus on the doxological motif.

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New Covenant Discussions

Most of you are already aware of these resources, but . . .

  • Dr. Cone has a long, but useful blog post summarizing the various views on the NC. He comes down on the side of "Israel Only." 
  • Dr. Cone, and others, have put out an entire volume arguing for an Israel-only view of the NC for those interested.
  • Regular Baptist Press put out a volume presenting different dispensational views on the NC a few years back. 

As for myself, 1 Cor 3 is far too explicit to ignore. Israel-only cannot be the case. 

----------------

Larry, you wrote:

On the topic of the doxological principle, isn't the point of that to contrast the covenantal focus on the redemptive motif?

That is precisely correct! Ryrie made that point explicitly. My copy of Dispenstionalism is at my church office, but I believe he made that point to say that DT can be seen as more God-glorifying than CT. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

alex o.'s picture
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Hi Larry

Larry wrote:

To repeat myself, can you, from Genesis 3:15 and antecedent revelation, demonstrate anything that you have said about Christ above that makes Christ the content of faith for the people of that time? If you only had Genesis 3:15 and nothing past that, what would someone (Adam and Eve) need to believe to be saved?

After a frustrating day like this one, I might shoot from the hip more so than others, but I will try to answer you.

There was no antecedent revelation concerning redemption prior to this judgment scene. Christ the Lord is the One giving the prophecy here so He is referring to Himself. Gen. 3.15 seems to me to be the thesis statement of the Bible.

Larry, don't get me wrong, I have not figured everything out here but, it seems, neither have any others from my searches. I have questions as to the skins for Adam and Eve, the sacrifice of a firstborn by Able, and other sacrifices. I am thinking not everything has been preserved for us, the later generations, is my present conclusion. The Bible does not give us all truth even about God and His dealings with us. There is much more truth about God that He has not disclosed to us sinners in Adam. He has given us all we need though.

In my view, Larry, propositional truth does not save us. It is necessary to a degree, yes, but it is God who saves us. No one (or very few) knows very much propositional truth when they turn to the Lord.

 

 

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The New Covenant

In my thinking the New Covenant is absolutely in effect for the Church (both Jews and Gentiles). It was made with the House of Judah and the House of Israel at Shavuot, 50 days after Pesach which was fulfilled by Christ's crucifixion. Note all the different nations represented where the dispersed of these Two Houses came from to reside in tents temporarily at Jerusalem to observe this feast. These constituted all the tribes in my thinking. Now Rabbinic Judaism is being made jealous by a mostly Gentile Church. All this (Gentiles as people of God) was foretold in the Song of Moses (Dt.32).

I contend that when Christ gave the command to disciple all nations that the disciples thought about the Jewish Diaspora. It was only later revealed that Gentiles could be included apart from becoming Jews first. This was what the disciples could not bear in Jn.16.12.

Those who do not believe the New Covenant is fully in effect, please list your objections. How can anyone read Hebrews and think the New Covenant is not here yet?

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Too many strains...

Since there are too many thoughts here, let me get back to the main one, doxology.  I went back to Ryrie's book and he states that each system of theology answers the need for a philosophy of history.  In light of your OP on the theological value of the these economies, Ryrie's discussion on this shed some light.  (I believe economies are more than markers, they demonstrate the progressive nature of His revelation to man, His purposes and His reasons for revealing Himself to us.)

Perhaps you don't see value in this but it seems to me from his writing, that the philosophy of history, the "why" these events occurred provides a foundation for our systems of thought. Perhaps you may disagree with his conclusions, but this is where his foundation for doxology begins.  In order to define this correctly, Ryrie suggests that one needs a proper goal, proper unifying principle, and a proper concept of progress (regarding revelation).  The proper goal is the establishment of the millennial kingdom. The proper unifying principle in dispensationalism is the eschatological.  He designates in his discussion on the sine qua non and in Chapter 5, that the unified purpose of the events throughout history is not redemption but the glory of God.  All things happen so glory may be given to God, who created all things.  The theological value of the dispensations is to show how God is working thru events to bring glory to Himself and have all His creation give glory to Him.  

I guess you are asking DT's to think about whether or not the glory of God should be this unified purpose of dispensational thinking.  I guess my question would be what would you replace it with?  Do you disagree with his philosophy of history?  

Respectfully, 

KML

  

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More thots on the New Covenant

I would recommend the argument and conclusions of Dr. Roy Beacham of Central Seminary on this topic.  One may or may not agree with Dr. Beacham, but his work should be considered on what constitutes a covenant ratification and its bearing on the subject of the church and the NC.

 

Rolland D. McCune

Rolland McCune

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Back to Acts 1

 

In Acts 1:6, the disciples held to the core of dispensationalism.  

 

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

This is the heart of the matter, not the name or listing of eras.  Dispensationalistis say the question was legit and that Jesus' answer did not condemn the question as wrong, while Covenant/Replacement interpreters say Jesus was indirectly correcting their theology.

 

Either way, at the point of Acts 1:6, the disciples were dispensationalists.  So my advice is to  stop arguing about which is older, and instead focus on the question of which is more Scriptural.

"The Midrash Detective"

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Strains

KLengel wrote:

Since there are too many thoughts here, let me get back to the main one, doxology.  I went back to Ryrie's book and he states that each system of theology answers the need for a philosophy of history.  In light of your OP on the theological value of the these economies, Ryrie's discussion on this shed some light.  (I believe economies are more than markers, they demonstrate the progressive nature of His revelation to man, His purposes and His reasons for revealing Himself to us.)

Perhaps you don't see value in this but it seems to me from his writing, that the philosophy of history, the "why" these events occurred provides a foundation for our systems of thought. Perhaps you may disagree with his conclusions, but this is where his foundation for doxology begins.  In order to define this correctly, Ryrie suggests that one needs a proper goal, proper unifying principle, and a proper concept of progress (regarding revelation).  The proper goal is the establishment of the millennial kingdom. The proper unifying principle in dispensationalism is the eschatological.  He designates in his discussion on the sine qua non and in Chapter 5, that the unified purpose of the events throughout history is not redemption but the glory of God.  All things happen so glory may be given to God, who created all things.  The theological value of the dispensations is to show how God is working thru events to bring glory to Himself and have all His creation give glory to Him.  

I guess you are asking DT's to think about whether or not the glory of God should be this unified purpose of dispensational thinking.  I guess my question would be what would you replace it with?  Do you disagree with his philosophy of history?  

Respectfully, 

KML

  

You are right about the different strains in this combox.  Allow me to respond to those parts of your last which I have underlined:

Quote:
I believe economies are more than markers, they demonstrate the progressive nature of His revelation to man, His purposes and His reasons for revealing Himself to us.

1. This would entail you having to explain the idiosyncratic mix of concepts within the names of the dispensations.  It would also oblige you to explain just how the dispensations "demonstrate the progressive nature of His revelation to man" rather than just mark it.  This involves delineation of the dispensations while arguing with those who would disagree (e.g. Cone, VanGemeren).  Are God's purposes revealed in the dispensations?  How?  This wraps one up in the problems of things like why the post-flood dispensation is distinguished more by government than conscience; or the Mosaic dispensation is more Law than government.  Note also what I said about the problems inherent in the dispensation of promise.  Further, I don't see God's "reasons for revealing Himself to us" in the dispensations.  I do see them in the covenants.  But the covenants are being overwhelmed by the dispensations!

2. You say,

Quote:
The theological value of the dispensations is to show how God is working thru events to bring glory to Himself and have all His creation give glory to Him.

But this merely asserts something you believe.  It does not demonstrate it.  Neither does Ryrie.  He just proves that DT has a more holistic view of doxology (which is true).  The covenants actually do accomplish this job very well, as I have tried to show in my work.

3.

Quote:
I guess you are asking DT's to think about whether or not the glory of God should be this unified purpose of dispensational thinking.  I guess my question would be what would you replace it with?  Do you disagree with his philosophy of history?

I'm sorry, but you again misunderstand me.  What I am asking dispensationalists is to prove their contention that the glory of God is essential to the system.  I think the best that can be done is to say that doxology is essential to ANY theological system; ergo, it is essential to dispensationalism (although I believe the claim that it is a system is doubtful).  I would replace it with a more robust and Christological position as set out, e.g. in my series Christ at the Center: The Fulcrum of Biblical Covenantalism.  

Do I disagree with his philosophy of history?  Well, the best work on this subject that I know from a DT perspective is by Ramesh P. Richard in Bib Sac.  He does a good job.  But then Richard leans toward PD!  But yes, I disagree with building a philosophy of history on dispensations.  There is too much uncertainty involved in the naming and defining of these dispensations.  further, the covenants do a far better job.  And this is especially so when it comes to the idea of historiography.  But I can't get into that here. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

Paul Henebury's picture
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TylerR wrote:

TylerR wrote:

Most of you are already aware of these resources, but . . .

  • Dr. Cone has a long, but useful blog post summarizing the various views on the NC. He comes down on the side of "Israel Only." 
  • Dr. Cone, and others, have put out an entire volume arguing for an Israel-only view of the NC for those interested.
  • Regular Baptist Press put out a volume presenting different dispensational views on the NC a few years back. 

As for myself, 1 Cor 3 is far too explicit to ignore. Israel-only cannot be the case. 

Tyler,

Greg Beale lists five ways the New Covenant has been understood in A New Testament Biblical Theology, 728.  Cone's work is very helpful too.  But neither of them discuss another possibility: that Jesus Himself is the New Covenant (cf. Isa. 49:8; Heb. 9:16-17 with diatheke translated as "covenant" in line with the context). 

----------------

Larry, you wrote:

On the topic of the doxological principle, isn't the point of that to contrast the covenantal focus on the redemptive motif?

That is precisely correct! Ryrie made that point explicitly. My copy of Dispenstionalism is at my church office, but I believe he made that point to say that DT can be seen as more God-glorifying than CT. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

Jim's picture
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? for Paul H re "bare bones" dispensationalism

If I believe the following:

  • A literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic AND
  • The Church ≠ Israel

Is that sufficient to call oneself a Dispensationalist?

 

 

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Works for me

Jim wrote:

If I believe the following:

  • A literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic AND
  • The Church ≠ Israel

Is that sufficient to call oneself a Dispensationalist?

 

 

If you are then I am too!

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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A. to Jim

Jim wrote:

If I believe the following:

  • A literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic AND
  • The Church ≠ Israel

Is that sufficient to call oneself a Dispensationalist?

At a bare-bones level I would say yes.  A consistent G-H hermeneutics will produce the goods which mark out basic traditional DT.  It will not mark out the dispensations themselves very clearly (but I think that's okay).  The Church Israel distinction is not an "economic" distinction, it is a covenantal distinction.  But again, the answer is yes.  That's a good start.

 

P

 

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

Jim's picture
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Whew!

Paul Henebury wrote:

At a bare-bones level I would say yes.

Me and Beanie are OK! 

Jim's picture
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I am comfortable saying ...

First of all, I view faith in Messiah as the only way of salvation from Adam until the end. 

I am comfortable saying ... 

  • A change took place w the Fall ... death & the curse
  • I see a pre-Israel period
  • The national Israel period
  • The inauguration of the church (commencing at Pentecost)
  • The post-church (post rapture) period with the tribulation followed by the return of Christ
  • The millennial period
  • And the eternal state / final state 
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Who's at Supper?

I'm glad Jim and I passed the minimum requirements. I always did have a problem with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David waiting to eat "post-shift" ( a little BJU Dining Room lingo there) while Jim and I finish dining with The Lamb! Or to see them cooling their heels in a low rent after-life (Paradise) for hundreds of years until Christ's resurrection.

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

James K's picture
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Paul Henebury wrote:

Paul Henebury wrote:

But then Richard leans toward PD!

Leaning in the right direction is always a good thing.  Btw, seeing Christ as the NC is so important to a sound understanding of the NC.

James

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

alex o.'s picture
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Hi Dr. McCune

Rolland McCune wrote:

I would recommend the argument and conclusions of Dr. Roy Beacham of Central Seminary on this topic.  One may or may not agree with Dr. Beacham, but his work should be considered on what constitutes a covenant ratification and its bearing on the subject of the church and the NC.

 

Rolland D. McCune

Greetings to you. I hope you and yours are doing well. greet Kevin for me, I got to know him a little while in Carlson Society at Pillsbury, I always thought of him as a good guy (as well as you, though we might not agree in everything).

I always thought of your statement of why The NC is not in effect because it was never made with the two Houses of Israel. The solution to that I believe could be what I mentioned about the second Israel Feast where all male Israelites were to present themselves before the Lord. So possibly, in my thinking, it is a solution. It was a Jewish Community after all, the early Church.

I know you don't want to just repeat Dr. Beacham's conclusions but I would appreciate your thoughts along with referring to his article. I don't have the Galaxy subscription so it limits my understanding of his position. I take it, from reading the abstract, that he will say that what happened in the first century doesn't reach the threshold for enacting a covenant. But shouldn't we look firstly to God how He makes covenants instead of looking Human covenants and requiring that God live up to a corrupted pattern?

For some of the other posters here (not you Dr Henebury, you explain yourself and give links), I ask you please discuss and not tell us where to go read.

I can look in late tonight or tomorrow for discussion.

Alex O. Krause

 

TylerR's picture
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All

Here is Dr. Beacham's article on ANE Covenants and the NC. I buried it in the depths of my church website so I can link it. I can't figure out how to attach a PDF file to a SI post. Hope it helps. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

Paul Henebury's picture
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The Bible must define

Thanks for linking to the Beacham piece Tyler.  I have the pdf - somewhere!  The article is informative and helpful, but, I think, flawed.  To insist that one "must" go outside the Bible to know about ANE covenants is to threaten the sufficiency of Scripture.  The Bible interprets itself.  It defines its own terms.  The first clear covenant anyone knows of is the Noachic Covenant.  Pagan covenants come after that time.  Looking to ANE covenants for instruction of how to interpret the biblical covenants is like looking at ANE creation myths to help interpret Genesis.  Not a smart move (unless, of course, one has a certain agenda).

Such pivotal things as Divine Covenants cannot hang on the thin thread of historical cum archeological contingency (knowledge of ANE covenants is recent and the details still disputed).  C. H. H. Scobie advised that scholars should derive their understanding of the Bible’s covenants from the Bible itself and not so much from the surrounding cultures. See his, The Ways of Our God, 474-475.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder/ President of Telos Theological Ministries, and teach at

alex o.'s picture
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Last post

I seem to be out of compliance with this site and will end my time here with this post.

We all know the Hosea passage about Adam breaking the covenant and Ro. 5 on the first and last Adam. So, it seems the prohibition to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a covenant. I have not read Dr. Beacham's article yet but will.

 

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Interesting theory

Paul,

Don't you go outside of Scripture to actually determine what the accepted Word of God is? (i.e. canon)

KML

 

 

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