Monday, November 12, 2007

Dispensationalism's Loosening Grip.....

When God saved me in 1976, I immediately began attending church with the men who had been faithfully witnessing Christ to me for the preceding year or so. It was not only a "King James Only" church but one where many of the members carried and read the same edition of an Oxford Press Scofield Reference Bible.....the so-called "old Scofield" to distinguish it from the 1960-ish "New Scofield" which had updated some of the archaic language in the King James (a real no-no in the KJO world). This Bible was so popularly used that the preacher could say "Turn to page 1114" and we'd all be looking at John 1.

My point is that I was "raised" a Scofield-type dispensationalist. I left Scofield behind some time ago but have continued to consider myself a dispy, especially in the negative sense--that is to say: I am NOT a follower of "covenant theology" Though I long ago abandoned ideas like "God saved men in different ways in different dispensations" I have continued, rather thoughtlessly I'm afraid, to follow dispensationalism in general. As I examine my somewhat unquestioning allegiance to this position, it seems that much of the motivation is my continued rejection of the alternative (or what I view as the alternative): Covenant Theology.

I admit up front, because it will be obvious soon enough, that I am no authority on Covenant Theology. I am just beginning to study it carefully. The initial stumbling block to me is infant baptism. My understanding is that covenant theology teaches that infant baptism is the New Testament (or Church Age) equivalent to circumcision. Sorry folks, there is NO scripture to back that up--not in my Bible anyway. Baptism is for believers...period.

Further, I am under the impression, subject to correction, that covenant theology leads to Amillennialism. That view of eschatology requires one to spiritualize much of OT prophecy. Can't do it......the Word of God stipulates a 1000-year reign of Christ on this Earth and I'm lookin' for it! Tied in with that is a denial of the literal restoration of Israel, the idea that the Church is Israel and all the promises, spiritual and earthly, given to Israel may be claimed by the Church. All this requires suspension of belief in the literal truth of the Word and the substitution of man's spiritualized interpretation.

So, when I look at the leading proponents of Dispensationalism, like Scofield and Ryrie, and see their errors--like the "different means for different dispensations" of Scofield and the idea of the Cross being "Plan B" I don't want to be too strongly identified as a Dispy, any more than I want to be identified with a bunch of baby sprinklers. This Scofield idea of the Church Age being a "parenthesis" in the plan of God is becoming repugnant to me. I've not read Ryrie thoroughly but will take a chance and relate what Dr Alan Cairns states as Ryrie's position (knowing that Cairns is strongly anti-dispensational and might have exaggerated this): Ryrie has carried the "parenthesis" idea even further. In a sentence, parenthetical remarks have relationship to the words before and after the parentheses. Ryrie says that the Cross and the ensuing Church Age are not parenthetical, but that they are an intercalation --that means the parenthetical words have no relationship whatsoever to the other words in the sentence, either before or after the parentheses. Ryrie is saying that the Cross and the Church have no relationship to the Old Testament economy, nor to the future Kingdom....that it is a totally separate and stand-alone event or phenomenon. All I can do is hope I've misunderstood that......if that's true, what is the Book of Hebrews doing in the Bible?

more later..........I welcome your views and am open to correction--just provide the Scripture with your thoughts.

1 comment:

Tim said...


that was TOTALLY over my head....(no scripture comes to mind)