Is Dispensationalism a Cult?

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.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
Since you will be leaving us in a few days, I will, for your benefit, attempt to deal specifically with John 20:30-31.

I searched and searched your post and I could not find even one reference to John 20:3-31. What you meant is the same old story--you will write an article that explains it later. So far you have come up empty.

Of course Calvinism teaches that a man's mind is blind to the gospel at birth. That is why Calvinist teach that a man must be regenerated before he can believe the gospel--because his mind is blind to the gospel.

But no one has been able to explain how the god of this age can blind men's mind to the gospel if they are already blind:

"In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:4).

Common sense dicates that before the god of this age can blind the mind of sinners to the gospel they must first be capable of seeing the gospel. But according to your view we should throw our common sense to the wind and imagine that the god of this age can blind those who are already blind.

Of course you had an opportunity to respond to these verses on another thread but you did not even make an attempt!

Greg Long's picture

Jack, I am a dispensationalist. I am a 4-point Calvinist (maybe 4.5ish) who does not believe the Bible clearly teaches limited atonement. I also do not believe Scripture is clear that regeneration logically precedes faith.

But I do believe the Bible teaches that people are born dead in sin and that Satan blinds them to the Gospel. Both are clear from Scripture. How exactly those work together is somewhat a mystery, although several individuals have given good explanations here on this thread.

And as someone who agrees with you in some respects (and disagrees with you in others), I would echo the sentiments of some of the others on here that your tone and approach are not helpful, especially as one who is new to the site.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Ed Vasicek's picture

John 20:30-31 is what it purports to be: a summary of why John wrote. The term "life" here is broad. We do have life in his name by believing, but this verse does not address WHY we believe and others do not. The verse does address why John wrote his Gospel. It is quite a simple statement.

Someone like myself who believes that regeneration comes first reason thusly: The spiritually dead cannot and will not believe because the Gospel is foolishness to them I Corinthians 1:18; I Corinthians 2:14, the natural man cannot perceive the things of the spirit, they that are in the flesh are hostile toward the true God Romans 8:7; and none seek after the true God, Romans 3:10-12 and Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Just like Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, it takes a spiritual zap of life for one to believe. Paul makes it clear that God's grace and the faith with which he believed was "poured out on him" I Timothy 1:14 and that his conversion was an EXAMPLE for us I Timothy 1:16.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jack Hampton's picture

Greg Long wrote:
And as someone who agrees with you in some respects (and disagrees with you in others), I would echo the sentiments of some of the others on here that your tone and approach are not helpful, especially as one who is new to the site.

Greg, why am I criticized but those who call my beliefs heretical get a free pass? Go to my thread on the "Natural Man" and see who is acting in a mature manner and who is not.

Why do you not go on that thread and lecture others? Or is it just me who gets the lectures on political correctness?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Greg, why am I criticized but those who call my beliefs heretical get a free pass?
Jack, the issue is that your position on original sin and total depravity appears to be Pelagianism which is a long recognized heresy in the church. It's not really a parochial or political issue. People are saying your position is heretical because it is, at least as it appears you are expressing it. I am inclined to give you some room on this because I think all of us at times don't realize what we are saying or the implications of it. That's the point of the command to study and learn. Perhaps you could do a little research on Pelagianism and interact a bit with it, showing why you are not a Pelagian.

It has nothing to do with the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. There is plenty of room for differences on Calvinism vs. Arminianism and various related issues. Feel free to express your disagreement with Calvinism. It won't bother most of us here, certainly not me. However, I would still encourage consideration of a more genteel approach to conversation and debate. It will make SI a better place for all of us.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
I found the place where Mark A. Snoeberger addresses the verses but he does not specifically deal with it.
He deals with a whole host of similar verses under one theme rather than dealing with all the verses individually.

Quote:
According to him the word "life" at John 20:30-31 cannot be referring to "regeneration." According to his pre-conceived ideas it cannot but the Scriptures tell another story. Let us look at the verses again:
As an introductory note, I want to point out that you are not dealing with his argument. In fact, you didn't even give his argument. This is simply dismissing it out of hand and asserting an alternate position.

Second, you bring 1 John 5 into the discussion, and are now discussing two passages. John 20 (your original discussion) does not mention "born again." So to say that that is what John has in mind is not necessarily born out by the text itself.

Third, 1 John 5:1 does not address the relationship of "belief" and "born of God" other than to say that they exist together. If you press this to say that being "born of God" is the result of "belief," than you cause problems in the verse because you have someone believing who has not been born of God (because they are not born until after they believe, unless you say it is simultaneous).

Fourth, "born of God" is a perfect passive verb, generally taken as describing a state of affairs. It does not intend to address how that state of affairs came to be. In other words, John is not saying that one is born of God because he believes. And I do not think that he is saying one believes because he is born of God. He is saying that those who believe are born of God, without necessarily addressing the causal relationship.

Fifth, compare your position with v. 5 where the one born of God overcomes the world. Both "overcomes" and "believes" are present tense, describing things that exist "in the present" as the author views it. If your reading of v. 1 is true, that the present tense "believes" results in the perfect tense "has been born," then what about v. 5? Does the present tense "overcomes" also result in the perfect tense "has been born"? I think that causes at least some tension for you because I don't imagine that you want to say that one "overcomes the world" with the result that they are "born of God." Yet that is what you say in v. 1, that one "believes" with the result that they are "born of God."

Now remember, on this point of the priority of regeneration vs. the priority of faith, I agree with you that faith precedes regeneration. But I think your dismissal of Mark's argument without interaction is unwise, and I think your overall conclusion is faulty.

Jack Hampton's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
John 20:30-31 is what it purports to be: a summary of why John wrote. The term "life" here is broad. We do have life in his name by believing, but this verse does not address WHY we believe and others do not.

The gospel comes in the power of the Holy Spirit but some people "resist the Spirit." That is why they do not believe while others do.

Those who resist the Spirit will not come to the light of the gospel because of reasons other than that they are blinded at birth to the truths of the gospel:

"Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (Jn.3:19-20).

This does not say that men will not come to the light of the gospel because they are blind to it but instead it says that they will not because of their fear that their deeds will be exposed. If they do not resist the Spirit then they will indeed be convicted of their sinful condition:

"When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn.16:8).

The Calvinists teach that a man's mind is born blind to the gospel by ordinary generation. But the Scriptures declare that the god of this age can blind the mind of men to the gospel. The Calvinists have failed to answer how it is possible for anyone who is already blind to be blinded. After all, one must be able to be able to see before he can be blinded.

Jack Hampton's picture

Larry wrote:
Jack, the issue is that your position on original sin and total depravity appears to be Pelagianism which is a long recognized heresy in the church.

Which church?

Jack Hampton's picture

Larry wrote:
In fact, you didn't even give his argument. This is simply dismissing it out of hand and asserting an alternate position.

I certainly did. I asked you to state his poisition and you refused. I then read the article and quoted the comments which he made after he quoted the verse. If you want to say that I am wrong about what he said about the specific verse in question then tell me! But don't say that I am wrong about his conclusion about the specific verse and then refuse to say how I was wrong.
Quote:
Second, you bring 1 John 5 into the discussion, and are now discussing two passages. John 20 (your original discussion) does not mention "born again." So to say that that is what John has in mind is not necessarily born out by the text itself.

First of all, the author himself says that regeneration means "born again." Do you deny that? And John 20:30-31 speaks specifically about believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing they may have life as a result of that belief. Then I quoted verses that say that those who believe these truths are born of God. So these truths can indeed be in regard to regeneration. That is the point which I made.
Quote:
Third, 1 John 5:1 does not address the relationship of "belief" and "born of God" other than to say that they exist together. If you press this to say that being "born of God" is the result of "belief," than you cause problems in the verse because you have someone believing who has not been born of God (because they are not born until after they believe, unless you say it is simultaneous).

The heart and soul of the gospel which was preached to the unsaved Jews during the Acts period is the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It was belief in that message that resulted in sinners being "born of God." After Paul was converted on the Damascus road he preached the same gospel in the synagogues:

"Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God...proving that this is very Christ" (Acts 9:19-20,22).

That is the gospel which Paul continued to preach to the Jews:

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ" (Acts 17:1-3).

This is the same gospel which Apollos preached to the Jews:

"For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28).

When the eunuch wanted to be baptized with water he was told that he first must believe. Here is his answer:

"And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 9:37).

It is evident that the main message being preached to unbelievers is the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And those who believed in His name were born of God:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn.1:12-13).

Here it is said that it was by believing in His name that resulted in them becoming the "children of God." And they became the children of God when they were "regenerated"--being "born of God." And again, that regeneration was a result of them believing in His name.

Are you willing to argue that the unbelievers who believed the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, were not regenerated when they believed that truth?

With that said it is rather obvious that John is here speaking of the same exact message and that the "life" of which he speaks is regeneration:

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
If you want to say that I am wrong about what he said about the specific verse in question then tell me! But don't say that I am wrong about his conclusion about the specific verse and then refuse to say how I was wrong.
I didn't say you were wrong about what he said. I said you didn't deal with his argument. You cited his position, and then asserted it was wrong. You didn't interact with the six or so pages of argument he gives in support of his position. And that is where the crux lies. Anyone can say, "He's wrong." But I think you have to show why he is wrong. Show why his arguments fail to win the case.

Quote:
And John 20:30-31 speaks specifically about believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing they may have life as a result of that belief. Then I quoted verses that say that those who believe these truths are born of God. So these truths can indeed be in regard to regeneration. That is the point which I made.
I understand (and I agree). But my point is that the verse says that "those who believe these truths are born of God." It doesn't say what relationship those two things bear to each other. In John 20:31, you have precisely, "believe so that they may have life." You have no such "so that" in 1 John 5:1. That verse only asserts that two things exist together. If you lean on the perfect tense, it says that those who believe "have been born of God."

Quote:
Here it is said that it was by believing in His name that resulted in them becoming the "children of God."
I don't see that there. I see that those who believe "were born." That is typically taken as a past tense translation, which is used to argue that they believe because they "were born," not they believe and then are born.

Quote:
And they became the children of God when they were "regenerated"--being "born of God." And again, that regeneration was a result of them believing in His name.
Again, I don't think that is what the verse says.

Jack Hampton's picture

Larry ][quote wrote:
I didn't say you were wrong about what he said. I said you didn't deal with his argument.

Let us look more closely at his argument and see if it stands up to the scrutiny of the Scriptures. One of the verses that he puts in the same category as John 20:31 is 1 Tim.1:14. Here is the verse and his comments that also apply to John 20:31:
Quote:
1 Timothy 1:16—“…for those who would believe in Him for eternal
life.”

It is impossible to deal with each of these texts individually, nor, in
fact, is the list exhaustive. However, a detailed exegetical study for each
is unnecessary for two reasons: (1) the “life” described in these verses is
not a strict synonym for regeneration...This is especially true of the phrase 'eternal life' ."


He also says that the words "made alive" at Ephesians 2:5 are speaking of regeneration:
Quote:
"Since Scripture only once refers to individual salvation with the
term “regeneration”... we must rely on
synonyms of regeneration in the course of this study. Some of these
include being “made alive”...(Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). p.53

Here is the verse:

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ" (Eph.2:5).

This verse is saying that those who were dead in sins are quickened or regenerated "together with Christ." This speaks of a "union" with Him. That is evident by the words which follow:

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:6).

John Calvin states these verses are in regard to a "union":

"And hath raised us up together. The resurrection and sitting in heaven, which are here mentioned, are not yet seen by mortal eyes...in Christ we already possess a blessed immortality and glory; and therefore, he adds, in Christ Jesus. Hitherto it does not appear in the members, but only in the head; yet, in consequence of the secret union, it belongs truly to the members" [emphasis mine ] (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Volume Second, ed. William Pringle [Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

Not only does this speak of a "union" with Him, but as Calvin says, this also speaks of possessing a blessed immortality. That immortality cannot be in regard to anything other tan the salvation of the soul, and that is a result of "faith" (1 Pet.1:9).

The sinner's regeneration is accomplised when one is quicked together with Christ and receives a life in Him. And here John is describing the very life into whuch one is regenerated:

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn.5:11).

This life that is a result of "union" with Christ ("Life is in His Son") is described as being "eternal."

So it is an error to argue that the following verse is not in regard to regeneration:

"Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Tim.1:16).

It is ridiculous to argue that one can be quickened together with Christ and raised up together with Him and is sitting together with Him in heavenly places but yet logically that person has not yet believed and therefore had his sins taken away:

"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.2:12-13).

One does not receive a forgiveness of sins before he believes but instead when he believes:

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43; NIV).

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack,

I am curious. Could you share why you think this is such an important issue? Do you see it as a distortion of the Gospel or in some way presenting another false Gospel? I am not trying to put words in your mouth, just giving you some idea what I am asking.

So far, it has seemed to me to be more of an academic issue with no real significance eternally. The majority of folks on both sides present the Gospel the same way in evangelism, don't they? What am I missing in the discussion?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Jack,

I am curious. Could you share why you think this is such an important issue?


This has nothing to do with any false gospel. Instead, a well known Calvinist has unfairly accused dispensationalism as being a cult. He bases his opinion on the fact that some dispensationalist's teaching on salvation issues differ from his ideas.

I am merely attempting to defend against the charge that dispensationalism is a cult. And I do believe that this is an important issue.

The Calvinist accuses dispensationalism of denying the idea of a "Limited Atonement" and many dispensationalis do indeed deny that idea. However, the Calvinist fails to address the words written here:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb.2:9).

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack,

Thanks for answering. Regarding Heb. 2:9. I have seen nothing in what you have written here on SI to indicate you hold a universalist position - that all will eventually end up in heaven. So how do understand Jesus to taste death for every man; I am particularly thinking of those who never receive Christ?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Jack,

Thanks for answering. Regarding Heb. 2:9. I have seen nothing in what you have written here on SI to indicate you hold a universalist position - that all will eventually end up in heaven. So how do understand Jesus to taste death for every man; I am particularly thinking of those who never receive Christ?


Chip,

I do not hold to a "univeralist position." Let us look at the verse in question:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for (hyper) every man" (Heb.2:9).

One of the meanings of the Greek word hyper is "on behalf of," and here is a verse that illustrates that meaning:

"Ye also helping together by prayer for (hyper) us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf" (2 Cor.1:11).

To paraphrase, Paul is saying that the "prayers of the believers in the churches at Corinth are said 'on behalf of" Paul and his co-workers."

If the author of Hebrews wished to express the idea that Christ died in the stead or in the place of all men then instead of hyper he would have used the word anti:

The Greek word anti can mean "instead of." The following verse is a good example that illustrates that usage:

"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for (anti) a fish give him a serpent?" (Lk.11:11).

To paraphrase, "...if he ask for a fish, will he, instead of a fish, give him a serpent?"

We can also see the same meaning in the Greek version of the Old Testament:

"And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead (anti), who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" (Gen.30:2; LXX).

"Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of (anti) the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren" (Gen.44:33; LXX).

So the author of the book of Hebrews is saying that the Lord Jesus tasted death on behalf of all men and not that He tasted death in the place of all men.

Do you berlieve that the Lord Jesus tasted death on the behalf of all men?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
I do not hold to a "univeralist position."

I assumed from what you have written on this site we were in agreement on this point.

Jack Hampton wrote:
Do you berlieve that the Lord Jesus tasted death on the behalf of all men?

That is exactly what the verse says; absolutely I believe it is true. What I was wondering is how you understand Jesus to have died on behalf of those who never receive Him as Savior - taste death for every man? IOW, what does the verse mean when it says that Jesus tasted death on behalf of every man, particularly in relation to those who never get saved?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
What I was wondering is how you understand Jesus to have died on behalf of those who never receive Him as Savior - taste death for every man? IOW, what does the verse mean when it says that Jesus tasted death on behalf of every man, particularly in relation to those who never get saved?

The events in Egypt when the passover lambs were killed provides the answer.

The passover lamb was killed on behalf of all those in a family. But until the blood of that passover lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts of their home through faith no one received any benefit from that death. The Lord Jesus tasted death on behalf of every men but it is not until a person believes the gospel that he receives the benefits of that death.

James K's picture

Is this really such a big deal? Gerstner has been dead since 1996 and no longer believes covenant theology. Can't we just accept the fact that he believes correctly now?

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.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
Is this really such a big deal? Gerstner has been dead since 1996 and no longer believes covenant theology. Can't we just accept the fact that he believes correctly now?

Sorry that I started a thread on a subject that really isn't a big deal.

James K, why don't you start a thread about something that really is a big deal?

Rob Fall's picture

under consideration in this thread is not the CT\DT debate. "Is DT a cult" is the question. Considering the acceptance of DT by many, the later is a proper topic for discussion. When an otherwise reasonable man designates my basic hermeneutical position as a cult, I want to know about it.

Also is having the wrong the order of salvation (sorry I'm a Baptist I don't do Latin) a mark of a cult? The debate of what it the correct order is one matter to declare disagreement over it a mark of a cult is another.

Just because the author who made the original charge of cultism is no longer with us, does not mean his position is not worthy of discussion. After all we are still slicing and dicing John Calvin's positions to this day.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
What I was wondering is how you understand Jesus to have died on behalf of those who never receive Him as Savior - taste death for every man? IOW, what does the verse mean when it says that Jesus tasted death on behalf of every man, particularly in relation to those who never get saved?

The events in Egypt when the passover lambs were killed provides the answer.

The passover lamb was killed on behalf of all those in a family. But until the blood of that passover lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts of their home through faith no one received any benefit from that death. The Lord Jesus tasted death on behalf of every men but it is not until a person believes the gospel that he receives the benefits of that death.

Sweet.

Jack, this is a personal commendation. Though I found disagreement with you on another matter and maybe more, it is never my assumption that this means I will not find agreement on other matters. Your exegesis certainly cannot be faulted here so far and your demand that others respond, themselves, with their arguments here is not only reasonable expected when one interacts on a thread, particularly when making assertions and posturing as a defendant of an argument contrary to the one being made.

And you have done a marvelous job, not just here but in another thread, in dealing with one of the many dysfunctions and failings of Calvinism when it faces elementary hermeneutics or advanced exegesis because its varying tenets simply cannot be sustained (though volumes have been published hoping to do so). I appreciate your candor and your pursuit.

But to this comment right here. Notice something missing? That's right, the Calvinist response that you are wrong and the argument to support it. The Passover Lamb could not be a better theological reference. And I realize that it is not the only one, but an excellent portion of Scripture in which to point to order to observe the dynamic of tasting death for all yet not receiving its benefits if one did not apply it to their doorpost just as our rescue from death, our salvation, is obtained by faith though he, our Lord, tasted death for all.

Keep up the good work and I appreciate that where you do not agree with the Doctrinal Statement of SI you have not forced any arguments to the contrary resulting in your being able to continue posting. I realize the post was somewhat personal, so to the powers that be, forgive me, but I don't imagine commendations are strictly forbidden seeing I have read many, many commendations contained within comments.

Rob Fall's picture

is

Jack Hampton wrote:
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."
SNIP

My bold and italics.

So the question to my mind which being asked is not what is "the essential salvation pattern." The question is if I disagree with Dr. Gerstner, am I a cultist.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jack Hampton's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
And you have done a marvelous job, not just here but in another thread, in dealing with one of the many dysfunctions and failings of Calvinism when it faces elementary hermeneutics or advanced exegesis because its varying tenets simply cannot be sustained (though volumes have been published hoping to do so). I appreciate your candor and your pursuit.

Thank you, Alex. I really appreciate it. I really do.

James K's picture

Sorry Jack, I just don't allow my blood pressure to rise when a former CTer of all people accuses DTers of being cult.

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.

Rob Fall's picture

With regret, I fear I must stop being diplomatic about this issue.

To my Reformed brethren, the issue isn't soteriology. It is "are DTs a cult?"

17th century European history is an interest. While Baptists in 16xx Germany weren't being judicial killed for their faith, they also weren't allowed residency in certain areas. Without residency, they could be tossed out in the middle of winter. Reformed commentators need to remember the "cult" argument is what suported the actions in the previous sentence.

Further if we are cultists, are we really children of God? Are we truly saved? Those are the questions you need to address.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Personally, I don't think it is possible to take a supernatural and miraculous work of God like salvation, slap it down on a steel table, perform an autopsy and declare our findings as unassailable. No matter how much I study and often I meditate, my mind just about explodes as I consider regeneration, sanctification, imputation, justification, faith, grace, mercy, justice- all wrapped up in this thing we call 'salvation'.

IMO, dispensationalism is a way of attempting to rightly divide the Word of Truth, but unless taken to unhealthy extremes, it in no way affects the basic Gospel message or the work of the Spirit in someone's life to produce Godly fruit. Folks can get saved and grow in grace without ever knowing whether or not the person that led them to the Lord and discipled them is a dispy or a Calvinist or Irish. So "No"- dispensationalism is not a cult, and someone saying so doesn't make it so, not to mention that Mr. Gerstner invented his own definition of 'cult' for his premise. Foul ball.

Jack Hampton's picture

Rob Fall wrote:
With regret, I fear I must stop being diplomatic about this issue.

To my Reformed brethren, the issue isn't soteriology. It is "are DTs a cult?"

17th century European history is an interest. While Baptists in 16xx Germany weren't being judicial killed for their faith, they also weren't allowed residency in certain areas. Without residency, they could be tossed out in the middle of winter. Reformed commentators need to remember the "cult" argument is what suported the actions in the previous sentence.

Further if we are cultists, are we really children of God? Are we truly saved? Those are the questions you need to address.


Rob,

I agree with the thoughts which you express. To answer one of your questions, most people say that those in a cult are not saved. Gerstner did not address this qustion in his book. But one sign of a true cult is their teaching that they have a monopoly on the truth and because of this everyone else is going straight to hell.

It is strange that much of Gerstner's criticism is against other Calvinists, Calvinists who are not five point. These men who are criticized teach salvation by grace through faith alone but yet they are called a cult. That being the case then according to Gerstner's standards then practically all persuations who differ from Five Point Calvinism are cults. Gerstner's teaching on this is more in line with the teachings of cults than is those who he accuses of being a cult.

Rob Fall's picture

with Susan. I compare the order of Salvation with quantum physics. I know what's all involved but after a certain point my human words fail to describe it. We must needs remember God exists outside time. So, while there is an order it can (many times) occur so fast it is unmeasurable by man. I liken it to a parallel circuit.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Dennis Clemons's picture

Gerstner is very well-written and is most certainly now more covenental than ever before. ;^} However, he was wrong when he called DT a cult. While I agree with the man much more than I disagree, he saw a trend in DT towards semi-pelageanism and erroneously accused all of DT of all being cultic. (Whomever said above that DT is mainly an eschatological and ecclesiastical construct was correct although with unfortunate tentacles that affect most major doctrines negatively.) Although wrong in their theology, they are clearly not automatically semi-pelagean.

That said, those who believe that man has the power to believe without God first regenerating him cause a rift in Scripture that cannot be united. The reader is left to either believe that contradictions exist or that "it's all just beyond us." But God has provided His Word in such a way that it is comprehendable, unified and logical. As compared with other theological constructs, only the CT position unifies the Scriptures. All others leave gaping contradictions. The worst that can be said about CT by an honest student is that it leaves fewer problems to resolve than does the Arminian, non-CT, or semi-pelagean theologies.

On top of that, DT is unscriptural. :O

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

James K's picture

Thanks Dennis. That was extremely helpful.

Quote:
As compared with other theological constructs, only the CT position unifies the Scriptures.

I found this to be extremely helpful. Now I can just put down my bible and open up a CT systematic theology book to know what I need to superimpose upon the Scripture. After all, the primary goal of Scripture is to unify it under covenants not mentioned in scripture. Obviously the importance of those unifying covenants is just so high, the authors of scripture never bothered to waste ink explaining them. It took men a millenia and a half to find it in the white portions of the pages of scripture. You are on to something here. I wonder what else I will learn from the white portions. I suppose the sky is the limit in that endeavor.

Tell me Dennis, what was Adam going to get for not eating the fruit and how long did he have to prove himself? I know the scriptures don't answer that, but you are a CTer, so you are smart enough to not need the scriptures for that answer.

The chicago way lives.

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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