Supersessionism Rising: Dispensationalism...? Part 2

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Sept./Oct 2011.

Part 1 concluded with the observation that many young evangelicals in colleges and universities have decided eschatology is not very important and that many lay people share that opinion.

Scholarly embarrassment?

Furthermore, and perhaps this is in part the cause of the point just made, it is my impression that Christian scholars, even the biblical scholars and evangelical theologians, are not all that interested in pursuing issues related to eschatology or even in advocating a particular position on eschatology. This is becoming more pervasive among premillennial dispensationalists. This may be (and I think it is) caused by the embarrassment that many of them feel when rubbing elbows with the wider scholarly evangelical community. It is something of a long-standing fact of scholarly life (nearly a “tradition”) that when one enters the “serious academy,” matters of eschatology are relegated to relative insignificance.1

One could recount dozens of testimonies of scholars who grew up in or were saved in churches that regarded the New Scofield Reference Bible with the highest esteem, churches that held Prophecy Conferences regularly if not annually, churches whose libraries were well stocked with the books of Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie, Pentecost, McClain, Feinberg and the other luminaries of classic dispensationalism. But when those young scholars went off to graduate school or seminary (even evangelical seminaries) they were disabused of those resources and enlightened to the profundities of Ladd, Dodd, Bruce, Barr, and Barth (!)…and these days James Dunn and N. T. Wright among others.

As an illustration I would offer the example of the book 20th Century Theology by Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olsen.2 In many ways this is a fine piece of historical theology. And while no survey can cover everything, yet in that book none of the “old Dallas Seminary” authors are even mentioned and the subject of eschatology appears in only one index reference and that’s under the theology of Rudolph Bultmann! The message is clear: “scholarly theology” is simply not interested in the timing of the Rapture or the future of ethnic Israel.3

Resurgence of reformed theology

Also, there has recently been a resurgence of Reformed theology among a broader range of evangelicals. The rise of Reformed theology (Westminster Confession of Faith type of Reformed), especially among the so-called “young restless and reformed”4 has generally and in some cases specifically had a deleterious effect on the study of eschatology. And more to the point, it has contributed to a movement away from premillennial dispensationalism toward a murky amillennial covenantalism.5 Popular preachers in that mode like John Piper6 (not so young but very popular with the young, restless and reformed men), Mark Driscoll,7 Kevin DeYoung8 and others as well as Reformed bloggers like Tim Challies9 have been on record as discounting prophetic themes while pushing a Westminster Confession of Faith/Reformed point of view that is inherently supersessionist. My point is that many of our young people, influenced by the popularity of the preachers and bloggers noted above, are becoming supersessionist almost without thinking. And this is happening even if they will somewhere in their theology affirm a form of premillennialism.

Spiritual vision eschatology

Next is the pervasiveness of what Blaising himself calls a spiritual-vision eschatology. This he defines as a “traditional eschatology which sees eternal life as a timeless, changeless, spiritual existence consisting primarily in the human soul’s full knowledge of God…. This is the sum total of what eternal life is, and it defines what is meant by heaven.”10 In short, the sum total of the eschatology of many Christians is this simple phrase: “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” For many Christians (and many of them in our own churches) this simple formula entails all that one needs to know about eschatology. And this fits well with the vision of supersessionism.

According to this view, everything in this life is “a symbol of spiritual realities” so “Israel can only be a symbol of a spiritual people to come.”11 In this view, one can easily turn the Old Testament land promises to Abraham and his seed into “spiritual promises.” They fit into a spiritual-vision eschatology. But viewing the land promises as promises that are to be literally fulfilled seem less than credible (or even pertinent) to a simple eschatology defined as “going to be with the Lord” at one’s death and nothing more. The very earthly (to be fulfilled literally “on the very ground”) and temporal (in time and space) eschatology of dispensational premillennialism seems less credible to many believers than the vision of this pervasive “spiritual-vision” eschatology. The latter is simple and satisfying, the former (dispensational eschatology) seems complicated. And in the end, they ask “who’s going to care about the Antichrist when they are with Jesus?”

The lack in our pulpits

Finally, it seems to me that behind much of the uncertainty of dispensationalism in the pew and the classroom stems from the fact that doctrine in general and eschatology in particular is not being taught in the churches or preached from the pulpits. I realize this may seem a wild generalization. But the penchant for relevance in preaching and the cry for practical instruction in the church has pushed doctrinal study to the periphery in many churches. I see it in the incoming students even in Bible college. Doctrine is often viewed as dry and unrelated to life; and that seems especial ly so when the doctrine concerns matters like the tribulation and the millennial kingdom. Besides, these matters are controversial and seem to generate more heat than light and the post-modern student looking for cultural and practical relevance and the entrepreneurial pastor seeking to grow his church soon learn to avoid such matters.12

Implications of all this

All in all, I may be wrong on this and I deeply hope I am. But I’m afraid that premillennial dispensationalism is on the wane, and not because there are better arguments for other millennial views, or for supersessionism. I think this is because the scholars have decided there have been enough arguments over eschatology and that one’s view of the millennium is, well, inconsequential and that to advocate a particular view is in poor scholarly taste. And students are looking for cultural acceptance more than theological precision because they think this is a better way to reach the world with the gospel. The effect of such trends, I fear, is simply to cede ground to views that are by default supersessionist.

Why does this matter? For one consequential matter is Jewish evangelism. It is much more likely for those who believe Scripture teaches a future for nation al Israel will be involved in ministries devoted to Jewish evangelism. It should be a concern for all of us who understand the Scriptural priority of Jewish evangelism to see that the theological tradition that has nurtured much of the impetuous for Jewish evangelism is healthy. One author made the telling observation that there are few staunchly Reformed organizations devoted to reaching the Jewish people.

But even more widely, we should be concerned because the truth we affirm from the Scriptures is in danger of being lost not in the rigors of theological debate and a progressively clearer understanding of the program and plan of God revealed in His Word. It is in danger of being marginalized by those who dismiss it while at the same time it wanes from lack of affirmation, advocacy and teaching by those who formally affirm it. It is one thing for our churches and students to be drawn away by advocates of other eschatological viewpoints. But it is another thing to allow them to drift away by our relative neglect. At the present time both developments are taking place.

Conclusion

Perhaps the optimists are right and supersessionism will not overtake the more Scriptural view that God indeed has a future for ethnic, national Israel. But even if they are right, it is appropriate for us to consider the challenges I have mentioned carefully and to address them boldly and confidently.

How then must we respond? The prescription is, I think very simple to state but will take some determined effort if there is to be a reversal of these trends.

Those who are undecided and on the fence regarding eschatological matters need to get off the fence! Study and show yourself approved! I’m confident that a serious of study of eschatology, looking at both sides and reading both covenant theologians and dispensational authors (such as those books mentioned above) will lead you to a firm conviction of dispensational eschatology.

Also, we educators need to teach this to our students and we pastors need to preach this to our flocks. The trends noted have not risen over night and will not be easily reversed—but they are reversible. If IFCA International does not stand for dispensational theology, who will?

Notes

1 See for instance (and this is only one) the testimony of Richard S. Hess, in his chapter, “The Future Written in the Past: The Old Testament and the Millennium,” in Blomberg and Chung, eds., A Case For Historic Premillennialism (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), pp. 23-24. Hess writes, “Several experiences in my life moved me away from this fascination with, and focus on, the details of Christ’s return.” “The ensuing years occupied me with the study of the Hebrew Bible in its original context and kept me safely away from the prophecy wars in evangelicalism.” The message is clear: serious scholars are not interested in the details of prophecy—they have “matured” beyond such a “fascination.”

2 Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olsen, 20th Century Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1992)

3 Another indication of the lack of scholarly interest in these matters is the rather lack-luster attendance at the Dispensational Study Group at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. This is purely anecdotal but it has appeared to me that while overall attendance at the ETS meeting has grown over the last few years, attendance at the meetings of the Dispensational Study Group has dwindled.

4 Cf. Colin Hansen, “Young, Restless and Reformed,” Christianity Today, September 22, 2006; http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/september/42.32.html; accessed march 22, 2011; see also Colin Hansen, “Reflections on Young Restless and Reformed,” Reformation 21, February 2009 http://www.reformation21.org/articles/reflections-on-young-restless-and-reformed.php accessed March 22, 2011.

5 A popular website resource for the “young, restless and reformed” is http://www.monergism.com/; this site is decidedly anti-dispensational and pro-covenant theology. However, it has many good and useful sources for other aspects of Bible and theological study.

6 See http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-does-john-piper-believe-about-dispensationalism- covenant-theology-and-new-covenant-theology; this page indicates that Piper “is probably the furthest away from dispensationalism, although he does agree with dispensationalism that there will be a millennium.” I would conclude that Piper holds to a form of “historic premillenialism.”

7 http://www.marshillchurch.org/markdriscoll

8 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/about/; DeYoung’s tag line is “DeYoung, Restless and Reformed.”

9 http://www.challies.com/; Challies clearly does not accept dispensationalism but periodically it comes up on his blog and he is a fair critic.

10 Blaising, “The Future of Israel,” 119. 25.

11 Blaising, “The Future of Israel,” 119.

12 For more on this point see John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 3rd edition, 2010).


Dr. Kevin D. Zuber is Professor of Theology at Moodly Bible Institute and Pastor of Grace Bible Church Northwest.

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There are 43 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

I agree with Dr. Zuber's perspective. Even in the Progressive Dispensational Camp, there is the Blaising side (more covenant) and the Saucy perspective, which is much more like traditional dispensationalism with an additional spiritual application added to the church (my view).

I do not see dispensationalism dying, but it is declining. A few years back, churches with Reformed theology were in decline, but that has made a comeback. Part of it, as hinted in posts commenting on part one, is that people do not want to hear eschatology. I think this is caused by several things:

1. The relevance movement. Many believers must see a direct link between a text and their daily lives. It is hard to draw that link as you go through Revelation, plague by plague. New applications just aren't there.

Whether spoken or quietly thought, many Christians really have the "what do I need this for" attitude toward prophecy. Although prophecy officianados sometimes can be lacking balance, the curiosity motivation is weak in many lives. The value of learning Scripture to learn Scripture (even apart from interpretational issues) is becoming a hard sell. Many Christians think the only reason to learn is to DO, a misunderstanding of James' teaching. James doesn't discourage learning, just not learning alone without doing. In the minds of many modern Christians, the ONLY reason to learn is to do. This is sad, for it denies the sanctifying power of the word and spiritual truth. Still, that's how it is in many instances. So what do you DO with prophecy/

2. Diversity of opinion. Our churches are filled with people who are all over the map when it comes to eschatology. So we are careful not to put too much emphasis there.

3. Hesitancy to Engage in Deep Thinking. It takes concentration and you have to learn some big words to do theology right. Fewer modern minds have the patience or determination to learn the complexities of any scheme of eschatology. Some do, but many do not. This ties in with number one.

4. Antisemitism. Antisemitism can take many forms, one of them refusing to be open to the natural, literal interpretation of God's promises to Israel. Thus it is tempting to do a "drop in" with those promises, much like day-age theory people do with the "thousand years are as a day" with the days of creation.

I think it is interesting that Mark S. Kinzer, in Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, pp. 226-233 suggests that Roman Catholics (among others) are becoming more open to a special connection to ethnic Israel.

The bottom line: The percentage of Christians (like myself) who view Israel as God's special nation and believe that God will exalt Israel in the Millennium wax and wane. Right now, things are waning. The future is... the future. Flux is constant.

What is sad, though, is characterizing Dispensationalists as Biblical idiots. I saw an email the other day listing names of covenant theologians compared to dispensational ones. They had the big guns on the covenant side, but the dispensational list were made up mostly of broadcasting personalities (TV or radio preachers). They left off Ryrie, Unger, Pentecost, Feniberg, Showers, Benware, Walvoord, Wood, Chafer, etc. The most scholarly representative they had was MacArthur. When I see the straw man thing, I am completely soured on the ethics of those who propagate such propaganda.

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I do believe that eschatology is sort of the climax of theology. It is interesting how many Reformed types scoff at eschatology and don't deal with many of the details while at the same time claiming to follow the real "deep thinkers."

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Steve Newman's picture

I agree with Ed that some of the highly pejorative statements by non-dispensationalists are hurting the perception of the movement today. He does properly list some of the great minds in dispensationalism, but many of them are "older" writers. It is true that not much new has been written from the "classic" viewpoint, which gives the appearance of dispensationalism as being outdated.
Are there enough people representing these viewpoints that can produce some new works? I think dispensationalists can produce some works on Revelation that can add to what is already out there. There is also much in the major prophets that authors such as Feinberg have started to explore that would be a blessing.

Charlie's picture

The diminution of dispensational theology is inevitable: it's a sign of the end times.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:
The diminution of dispensational theology is inevitable: it's a sign of the end times.

Inevitable, Charlie? I would say that it is inevitable that the inevitable isn't. Okay, maybe double-talk is my thing!

"The Midrash Detective"

James K's picture

I would add that those who are not Dispy-Premill do not accurately represent it. Years ago RC Sproul's hero, Gerstner, wrote a book that was supposed to condemn Dispensationalism. Sproul wrote the forward to it. Turns out, if that is what Dispensationalists really believed, they would stop believing it. It was so horribly written, but because Gerstner was who he was, it was accepted as valid. The whole fight goes back to the way the Presbos dealt with Chafer/Dallas Seminary. It is at that time that covenantalists began rewording the debates and dispies like Ryrie did the same toward them.

Mike Vlach at the Masters Seminary has written a great book about the various kinds of supersessionism. He sees 3 kinds historically.

It ultimately comes down to whether or not God lies. Covenantalists say He doesn't but make Him because of what they do with promises.

Some might say that Israel got all the land promised to them because of a passage in Joshua. While that sounds nice, Jeremiah promised hundreds of years after Solomon that the NC was coming and that it had specific geographic points.

Also, nonDispy advocates would do well to read: http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/11/twenty-five-stupid-reasons-for-dissin... Stupid reasons to reject Dispensationalism.

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.

James K's picture

Also, supersessionism isn't rising. It is the dominant view and has been. Despite some of the poorly argued issues, dispensationalism has been a light.

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.

removed_jh's picture

As I read the two part article, and the responses, it struck me that what is increasingly being viewed as insignificant by non-dispensationalists, i.e. the doctrine of eschatology, has incredible relevance.

A covenant view of eschatology affects daily life in churches, families and countries in ways we have not had to experience here in North America in well over 230 years. Your eschatology affects your view of civil government as well as church government. A review of church history must take into account what has happened to the church when a literal eschatology for Israel and the church was ignored. There was a blurring of the distinctiveness between the organized church and government, an forced compliance and coercion to convert or die, as well as documented and accepted persecution and execution of non-conformists, all in the name of Jesus Christ and His church. Why? Because if the church=kingdom people, and is to help bring in the kingdom, and the kingdom has governmental features, then it only makes sense that non-compliance would be seen as a "civil" matter and not just an issue of personal liberty or conscience. The discussion of a literal hermeneutic must continuously recognize the interaction and interconnectedness of all the areas of biblical and systematic theology.

As previously alluded to in the article, Jewish evangelism becomes much less important when accepting a non-literal Jewish/Israel future kingdom. This is undeniable. And, it should also break our hearts. It is time to rise up, O men of God.

One other thought ... as I ramble on, realizing that I am not sure I am really contributing much, but rather venting a bit ... Teaching doctrine is not impossible, but let me say that it is becoming an increasing challenge to see people grow when they attend the regularly scheduled meeting times of the corporate body less and less ... a cultural phenomenon that truly affects me as a shepherd ... less and less people attending ... less and less of the services ... leading to less and less opportunities to give attention to necessary items that we all need.

One last push ... if you cannot attend the Dispensational Council on Hermeneutics, then be sure to go to Baptist Bible Seminary website and read the provided papers from current and past councils as well as listen to available audio, even past chapels in the archives.

Steve Davis's picture

In my mind the author’s view of Jewish evangelism has little support.

He says: “It is much more likely for those who believe Scripture teaches a future for nation al Israel will be involved in ministries devoted to Jewish evangelism. It should be a concern for all of us who understand the Scriptural priority of Jewish evangelism to see that the theological tradition that has nurtured much of the impetuous for Jewish evangelism is healthy.”

Why not just evangelism, regardless of ethnicity? Certainly there may be different stategies for JE and there are fine organizations committed to it. But I fail to see a connection between a future for the nation of Israel and present day JE. I don’t follow how trying to reach more Jews today is affected by what God might do in the future or vice-versa. I also fail to see a “Scriptural priority of Jewish evangelism.” This was part of Pau’ls strategy – “to the Jew first.” And John tells us that Jesus “came unto His own and his own received Him not.” How does this become a “Scriptural priority” for the church and how is that implemented? Jesus told us to “make disciples of all nations.” This is the priority.

I do think the author is correct that dispensationalism is on the wane. Statements like the author’s above may well contribute to that decline.

Steve Davis

Barry Farlow's picture

To encourage my fellow Dispensationalists, Dispensationalism is growing stronger here in Brazil, particularly at the Bible College I teach at in Curitiba. In class right now we are reading straight out of Louis Berkhof's systematic teology and the students are amazed at the weakness of the scriptural arguments for Covenant Theology.

Rob Fall's picture

Baptists being anti-sacralists have been on the pointy end of supersessionism. We have, as a matter of practice, disconnected Israel from the Church. If for no other reason, many have held (rightly or wrongly) to a "local church" only interpretation of ekklesia.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

dmicah's picture

Something not addressed here is the ongoing debate of majors & minors. it is unfair to charge those of us who do not believe eschatology as a hill to die on with imprecise theology. call it post-modernity or a "kinder/gentler" Christianity, but many of the YRR/CE/YF crowd just don't care about the precise details of Jesus' return. He will return in power and glory. He will judge the nations. He will separate his sheep from the goats.
If he raptures out the believers and deals with Israel, fantastic. I dodge the trib. If he allows his assembled elect to roll through the trib, fantastic. He's in charge and we'll witness some crazy stuff. If he does something halfway between, or a little bit later, i am not concerned. He's going to get His eternal will accomplished. Personally i've thought about, prayed through & studied several end times positions. I know why i believe the theological position i've assumed. if i don't adopt a dispensational pre-trib rapture, that's not for relevance, or entrepreneurial church growth. It's because the bible seems to point in a different direction.

Acts 1:7-8 give us the perspective to adopt. Details of return - not important. Certainty of return - infinitely important.

James K's picture

Imagine the audacity to actually say that details of the Bible are not important. On what authority do you say that and on what authority do you only pick eschatology as mostly unimportant?

The NT authors build upon OT expectation. If you don't understand that expectation, you don't understand all that Jesus did and will do. You have essentially reduced so much of the NT to irrelevance.

Jesus died for people. All you need to know. The details are not important.

Jesus set up a church. All you need to know. The details are not important.

The problem you face is that the Bible was specific about prophecies literally fulfilled in Christ's first coming so much so that He rebuked the people who didn't believe that they completely missed him. They knew he was coming, but they didn't understand the details.

By the way, the perspective of Acts 1:7-8 was that Christ is going to restore the kingdom to Israel.

I would argue that the reformed community has treated eschatology like an unwanted child for so long that any serious attempts to get into are shunned. The attitude of Paul after considering the plan of God in Rom 9-11 was that He should be praised for His remarkable wisdom. When you cut eschatology down, you cut at the plan of God and miss out on a true, Christ exalting worship of what God did and will do.

The article is about supersessionism. There is no question that the "church" has had an extreme, anti-Christ, anti-Pauline message about Israel throughout its history. The reformers essentially adopted the same, reckless approach to Israel that the Catholics did. So if you are really concerned about the church, you won't make God a liar.

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.

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:
Imagine the audacity to actually say that details of the Bible are not important. On what authority do you say that and on what authority do you only pick eschatology as mostly unimportant?

The NT authors build upon OT expectation. If you don't understand that expectation, you don't understand all that Jesus did and will do. You have essentially reduced so much of the NT to irrelevance.

Jesus died for people. All you need to know. The details are not important.

Jesus set up a church. All you need to know. The details are not important.

The problem you face is that the Bible was specific about prophecies literally fulfilled in Christ's first coming so much so that He rebuked the people who didn't believe that they completely missed him. They knew he was coming, but they didn't understand the details.

By the way, the perspective of Acts 1:7-8 was that Christ is going to restore the kingdom to Israel.

I would argue that the reformed community has treated eschatology like an unwanted child for so long that any serious attempts to get into are shunned. The attitude of Paul after considering the plan of God in Rom 9-11 was that He should be praised for His remarkable wisdom. When you cut eschatology down, you cut at the plan of God and miss out on a true, Christ exalting worship of what God did and will do.

The article is about supersessionism. There is no question that the "church" has had an extreme, anti-Christ, anti-Pauline message about Israel throughout its history. The reformers essentially adopted the same, reckless approach to Israel that the Catholics did. So if you are really concerned about the church, you won't make God a liar.

Imagine the audacity of going beyond Scripture in elevating interpretation to a level of certitude in spite of centuries of disagreement. Imagine the audacity of making out others to be liars because they don't hold to your interpretation.

BTW, details about what we do know from historical fact (Christ's death, Church) are certainly more clear than what has not yet transpired and is often presented with imagery that confounds the keenness interpreters.

Steve Davis

James K's picture

Steve, what did I say that is beyond Scripture? I don't believe 25% of the Bible was written so that we could be agnostic and uncaring about it. Maybe you do.

By the way, people can and do say your exact objection against the doctrines of Christ and the Church.

They aren't liars because they don't hold to my interpretation. They make God to be a liar by saying that He goes against His word.

I hope that helps.

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.

dmicah's picture

James K wrote:
Imagine the audacity to actually say that details of the Bible are not important. On what authority do you say that and on what authority do you only pick eschatology as mostly unimportant?

The NT authors build upon OT expectation. If you don't understand that expectation, you don't understand all that Jesus did and will do. You have essentially reduced so much of the NT to irrelevance.

Jesus died for people. All you need to know. The details are not important.

Jesus set up a church. All you need to know. The details are not important.

The problem you face is that the Bible was specific about prophecies literally fulfilled in Christ's first coming so much so that He rebuked the people who didn't believe that they completely missed him. They knew he was coming, but they didn't understand the details.

By the way, the perspective of Acts 1:7-8 was that Christ is going to restore the kingdom to Israel.

I would argue that the reformed community has treated eschatology like an unwanted child for so long that any serious attempts to get into are shunned. The attitude of Paul after considering the plan of God in Rom 9-11 was that He should be praised for His remarkable wisdom. When you cut eschatology down, you cut at the plan of God and miss out on a true, Christ exalting worship of what God did and will do.

The article is about supersessionism. There is no question that the "church" has had an extreme, anti-Christ, anti-Pauline message about Israel throughout its history. The reformers essentially adopted the same, reckless approach to Israel that the Catholics did. So if you are really concerned about the church, you won't make God a liar.

James, i see this got in your crawl. you'll note, i never said details of the Bible were unimportant. So your whole premise is an incorrect rush to judgment. What I said was that a lot of folk don't care about precise details of the end times. And i don't. i look forward to the return. that's the biblical exhortation. I have my eschatological position worked out. I preach that Jesus can return at any time. It's just not in a dispensational format.
different doctrines carry greater weight of impact on our thinking as it relates to other doctrines and Christian life. Authority of Scripture, Deity of Christ, justification by faith certainly trump the timing of the tribulation. my point is not so much that there are major & minor doctrines, it's the blatant error of this insistence by some, including yourself, that to not be dispensational or raise eschatology like a flag to be vigorously waved, is to be theologically inaccurate. Somehow if i don't agree with your interpretative notions, i've given no thought to the scriptures and made the NT irrelevant. You say i've cut at the plan of God, but again, you jumped to misguided conclusions, then buttressed them with some illogical and sloppy generalizations about the atonement and the church.

We can disagree on a theological viewpoint, but it is audacious to claim scriptural high ground simply because i don't draw the same conclusion you do. and as to me "making God a liar".....really?

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:
Steve, what did I say that is beyond Scripture? I don't believe 25% of the Bible was written so that we could be agnostic and uncaring about it. Maybe you do.

By the way, people can and do say your exact objection against the doctrines of Christ and the Church.

They aren't liars because they don't hold to my interpretation. They make God to be a liar by saying that He goes against His word.

I hope that helps.

Maybe I do what? Am I agnostic and uncaring about 25% of the Bible? Are you serious? People can say anything but you ascribe this in such a general way as to make your charge meaningless. Does someone make God a liar if they do not hold to a pre-trib rapture or restoration of Israel? That's what I understand you saying. Correct me if I'm wrong. It does sound like disagreeing with you and with God in these areas are the same.

Jesus is coming again as He promised. He will reign forever and ever in a new heaven and new earth. Whether His coming is in two phases or pre, mid, or post-trib, whether there is an ingathering of Israel at that time or if Jewish people are being added to God's people now, whether the eternal reign is preceded by an initial 1000 year reign - these are interesting questions and worthy of discussion and can be answered with conviction to some extent. But different interpretations held by Christians about future events do not make God a liar. As I understand Scripture our views in these areas are not slam dunk to the point of contending for them contentiously.
We will all be corrected in time.

Steve Davis

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
Maybe I do what? Am I agnostic and uncaring about 25% of the Bible? Are you serious? People can say anything but you ascribe this in such a general way as to make your charge meaningless. Does someone make God a liar if they do not hold to a pre-trib rapture or restoration of Israel? That's what I understand you saying. Correct me if I'm wrong. It does sound like disagreeing with you and with God in these areas are the same.

Jesus is coming again as He promised. He will reign forever and ever in a new heaven and new earth. Whether His coming is in two phases or pre, mid, or post-trib, whether there is an ingathering of Israel at that time or if Jewish people are being added to God's people now, whether the eternal reign is preceded by an initial 1000 year reign - these are interesting questions and worthy of discussion and can be answered with conviction to some extent. But different interpretations held by Christians about future events do not make God a liar. As I understand Scripture our views in these areas are not slam dunk to the point of contending for them contentiously.
We will all be corrected in time.

Well said!

James K's picture

@dmicha

1. Sorry for mistaking

Quote:
but many of the YRR/CE/YF crowd just don't care about the precise details of Jesus' return
as meaning that it was unimportant. [sarcasm ]I was obviously mistaken that caring about details is what made something important.[/sarcasm ]

2. Why would you not care about details when God filled both testaments with so many? This goes back to my first point. Eschatological agnosticism is just laziness.

3.

Quote:
different doctrines carry greater weight of impact on our thinking as it relates to other doctrines and Christian life.

Of course that is true. The church in Thessalonica had Paul for about 3 weeks. During that time, he got into the rapture and later wrote about their behavior based on that teaching. Is it important for the here and now? Only if you think Paul had a good idea about church planting and teaching.

4.

Quote:
it's the blatant error of this insistence by some, including yourself, that to not be dispensational or raise eschatology like a flag to be vigorously waved, is to be theologically inaccurate.

When the apostles were living, did they adopt a your attitude or did they insist upon the one true interpretation of future events?

5.

Quote:
Somehow if i don't agree with your interpretative notions, i've given no thought to the scriptures and made the NT irrelevant.

No, you did that all to yourself because of your disinterest in those pesky details God chose to incorporate into the Bible.

6.

Quote:
and as to me "making God a liar".....really?

This has to do with what the original article was about, supersessionism. If you do not believe in a future restoration of political Israel, you have made God to be a liar. That isn't my opinion, that is what the Bible says. It takes effort to not see that.

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.

James K's picture

@Steve

1.

Quote:
Am I agnostic and uncaring about 25% of the Bible? Are you serious?

Yes I am serious. 25% of the Bible is prophetic details.

2.

Quote:
Does someone make God a liar if they do not hold to a pre-trib rapture or restoration of Israel?

The article is about supersessionism, which is the replacement of Israel with anything else. I am not talking about the timing of the rapture as not all dispensationalists are pretrib. Dispensationalism isn't an eschatological position as much as it is a hermeneutic.

3.

Quote:
It does sound like disagreeing with you and with God in these areas are the same.

Jesus claimed He is the only way. If I repeat that He is the only way and someone says that they can disagree with me on that point and still agree with Jesus, then he has only deceived himself. I did not invent the idea that God would restore Israel. He said it so many times in both testaments that it takes effort and determination to disagree with God.

4.

Quote:
As I understand Scripture our views in these areas are not slam dunk to the point of contending for them contentiously.

Would Paul have adopted your position on this when he charged Timothy to make sure the churches did not preach any false doctrine? You just don't see how postmodern in your thinking you really are on this.

I have seen some of your other works. I know you are a supersessionist yourself. That explains so much in your objections. I have seen you falsely try to convince nonJews that promises not made to them apply to them thereby heaping confusion on them.

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.

Andrew K.'s picture

Quote:
I have seen you falsely try to convince nonJews that promises not made to them apply to them thereby heaping confusion on them.

Not nearly so much confusion as dispensationalists caused by telling me that Abraham isn't my father when Paul says he is. Twice.

Dispensationalists really need to face the fact that much of the damage done to their position has come from their own camp.

神是爱

James K's picture

Andrew, that isn't a dispensationalist problem. That some people do that isn't because they are dispensationalists. There are also many dispensationalists who rightly do say that he is our father.

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.

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:

3.

Quote:
It does sound like disagreeing with you and with God in these areas are the same.

Jesus claimed He is the only way. If I repeat that He is the only way and someone says that they can disagree with me on that point and still agree with Jesus, then he has only deceived himself. I did not invent the idea that God would restore Israel. He said it so many times in both testaments that it takes effort and determination to disagree with God.

4.

Quote:
As I understand Scripture our views in these areas are not slam dunk to the point of contending for them contentiously.

Would Paul have adopted your position on this when he charged Timothy to make sure the churches did not preach any false doctrine? You just don't see how postmodern in your thinking you really are on this.

I have seen some of your other works. I know you are a supersessionist yourself. That explains so much in your objections. I have seen you falsely try to convince nonJews that promises not made to them apply to them thereby heaping confusion on them.

So you really find certitudinal parity with "Jesus claimed He is the only way" with "the idea that God will restore Israel"?

Actually I lean toward historic premillennialism. Interesting how you see how postmodern my thinking is. Does that make yours modern with assured results achieved by human reason? I have no idea what you mean by your statement that you “have seen [me ] falsely try to convince nonJews that promises not made to them apply to them thereby heaping confusion on them." If by that you mean the promises of the New Covenant, the church as a New Humanity, and heirs with the one people of God in which ethnic distinctions no longer matter, now or future, then yes I stand guilty.

As I understand Scripture there may be a great ingathering of Jewish people at some future date. However for those who suggest an essentially Jewish millennium, rebuilt Temple, restored sacrifices, etc. I fail to see this except as a wooden reading of the text that ignores the New Testament contribution to our understanding. I may be wrong and may stand corrected in the future. Until then I would suggest a dose of epistemic humility.

Steve

James K's picture

Quote:
epistemic humility

That is the cry of the emergents.

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.

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:
Quote:
epistemic humility

That is the cry of the emergents.

If it is then maybe that's something positive we can learn from them. However I have the suspicion that the Bible calls us to humility at least a few times. At least consider the possibility that you don't have the details nailed down. Then you can relax among those with whom you disagree.

James K's picture

Steve, how about if you tell me which doctrines Christians should be dogmatic about and which we should show "humility" about. I know the Bible doesn't say to do any such ideas, but I will show humility toward you and defer to your wisdom on this. Those doctrines that require humility should probably not ever be taught for fear of getting it wrong. Teachers are after all held to a higher standard. I wait with great anticipation for your list.

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.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

...that says: "God, I know what You said, but I am just not sure what You mean. After all, the _______________ (theologians, scientists, academics, etc.) don't think You meant what You said..." --- ???

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Steve Davis's picture

James K wrote:
Steve, how about if you tell me which doctrines Christians should be dogmatic about and which we should show "humility" about. I know the Bible doesn't say to do any such ideas, but I will show humility toward you and defer to your wisdom on this. Those doctrines that require humility should probably not ever be taught for fear of getting it wrong. Teachers are after all held to a higher standard. I wait with great anticipation for your list.

Briefly, I am dogmatic on those doctrines which are the essence of what it means to be Christian- the fundamentals of the faith, the Apostles’ Creed, for example. I would have strong convictions and yet enjoy fellowship with brothers who differ with me on eschatology and church ordinances. I hold to and practice believer’s baptism but enjoy fellowship with my pedobaptist brethren. When it comes to eschatology neither I nor our church take a position on the timing of the Second Coming (pre, mid, post) or on the millennial question (a, pre, post). Among the leadership we hold different views and have interesting and animated discussions. Our views are not a test of fellowship or obedience and members do not need to subscribe to an official position. Humility is more becoming for those things which have not yet transpired and over which Christians have debated for 2000 years.

Steve

Steve Davis's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
...that says: "God, I know what You said, but I am just not sure what You mean. After all, the _______________ (theologians, scientists, academics, etc.) don't think You meant what You said..." --- ???

God certainly means what He said. The problem is that we may try to put words in God’s mouth and we don’t yet understand everything He said. Some men seem to understand some things better than I do (or at least make that claim) and that's okay. They are more assured of their results of study let's say in the area of eschatology and present their views as "thus saith the Lord." I'm not there yet.

Anne Sokol's picture

I've kind of mulled this end-times topic over from time to time. The part of it that I don't like is that the dispensational teaching focuses mostly on this time-line chart of events. That really bothers me now because I think it takes us away from other main, helpful instruction Jesus gave us.

For one thing, someone mentioned the disciples (and other Jews) in the time of Jesus who had their own traditional ideas of what Jesus' coming was to look like--the literal kingdom, etc. And they were so wrong about what God was doing at that time. So, I try to be very "humble" about these future prophesies and keep my eyes open for details that are not taught in our dispensational teaching.

Like this: recently, we as a youth group read Matthew 24 and we took note of very specific keys that Jesus gives us--if we are here during this time, we need to be aware of these things:
1. Many will say they are Christ
2. They will do miracles--they want to trick the elect even
3. Many will fall away, betray others
4. Many false prophets will come
5. People will try to get us to go and see "Christ" but don't believe them! Don't go.
6. Christ's coming will be like lightening.
7. No one knows the day or the hour (Harold Camping, anyone?)

So, anyway, I don't like the chart/timing emphasis in dispensational teaching.

And generally, I don't like that we think a whole lot more about Christmas than we ever do about Jesus' return and being ready for that every day. (And maybe that we argue more about the timing and stuff than analyzing what it means to be a ready steward.)

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