In a book entitled Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth Calvinst author John H. Gerstner accuses dispensationalism of departing from the truth in its doctrine of salvation. He then says, "To depart from the essential salvation pattern is inevitably to depart from Christianity. We define a cult as a religion which claims to be Christian while emptying Christianity of that which is essential to it" (John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Second Edition, 2000], 169).
This book is endorsed by many of the leading Calvinists of our day so they too must believe that Dispensationalism is a cult. One of the major disagreements is on the subject of "regeneration."
Does Regeneration Precede Faith?
Here Gesrstner states the difference between Calvinists and Dispensationalists in regard to regeneration:
"The question is whether faith is 'based' on regeneration or regeneration is 'based' on faith. That is, is it 'because' a person is regenerated that he believes, or is it 'because' he believes that he is regenerated? There can be no question that the dispensationalists are saying that it is because a person believes that he is regenerated simultaneously" (Ibid., 159).
Of course the word "regeneration" means passing from spiritual death to spiritual life. Let us look at the following words of the Lord Jesus to see if it can be helpful in answering the question as what comes first, regeneration or faith?:
"He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn.5:24).
Here the Lord Jesus speaks of passing "from death unto life." From the following words of the Apostle John we can understand that what he wrote in his gospel was written so that those who believed would receive life as a result of believing:
"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).
It is a result of believing that the sinner is "passed from death unto life." The Calvinist teach that a person is regenerated prior to believing. That idea is directly contradicted by the words of John which I quoted.
Since it is "believing" that results in passing from death unto life it is obvious that one must be dead spiritually before believing. Despite this the Calvinists say that one is "alive" spiritually before believing.
The Dispensationalist view on this subject is the correct view because it is based on what the Scriptures actually say. The Calvinist view is based on a denial of what John wrote. Dispensationalism is not a cult.