Tuesday, November 28, 2006

25 Stupid Reasons For Dissing Dispensationalism Review 2

This is the second installment, though it’s actually the first concerning Dan Phillip’s post on Dispensationalism. He starts the post out with some comments in general.

It's just not "cool" to be dispensationalist, anymore. The system had particular prominence in the seventies and beyond, which excited a lot of envy and resentment among the non's ("Hey, what about us?"). So they produced a lot of sourpuss, wanna-be literature, trying to take back every area that dispensational writers had held.

They haven't fully succeeded. This really irritates them, because many of them still think that dispensationalists are unsophisticated knuckle-draggers at best, or heretics at worst. It's like listening to evolutionists talk about the Great Unwashed, who they see as too stupid to agree with them, still boneheadedly clinging to inane creationistic notions. They alternate between sniffing in disdain, and wondering why their outreaches fail to penetrate their foes' Stygian darkness.

But anti-dispies have succeeded with some folks, more (I think) through image than substance. They have convinced them that it isn't cool to be a dispensationalist.

Particularly, it's not cool to be Reformed and dispensationalist. In responding to a letter of mine about something entirely different (the problem of evil), decades ago, the great commentator William Hendriksen slapped me down something fierce. I had made the mistake of mentioning in passing that I was a Calvinist, and a dispensationalist. The great man told me you can't be "100% reformed/Calvinist" and dispensationalist. He told me to read this and that book, and not to write him again until I was 100%. As I recall, he even suggested that this doctrinal error lay at the root of my problem with evil.

Yet stubbornly here I am, still unrepentantly both, and still for the exact same reason: when I consistently apply the hermeneutic that God used to save me, I end up Reformed... and dispensationalist.

Now for the most part I am in agreement here with him concerning how many view dispensationalists. They look at them as unlearned and unsophisticated. I however, do not. There are many dispensationalists who I greatly admire such as John MacArthur and Phil Johnson. However, dispensationalists receive this kind of treatment because of those who are simply “out front” and more popular. This cannot be denied.

Hendriksen is completely wrong about what he said to Phillips. However, he probably would say the same thing to me since I don’t believe in infant baptism, therefore I’m not Calvnistic or totally reformed. On that last point I would concur, I am in the process of reforming.

No one can deny the great contributions that many dispensationalists have contributed to the church. However, I would also make mention of the fact that their dispensationalism has also been of great concern in both theological and practical matters. Some of these I have made mention of before. So understand that we are dealing here with the message and not the messenger. With that in mind, let’s look at the first point he makes. I’ll put my comments in blockquote.
1. All of the coolest guys are amillennial/"historical" premill/covenant/whatever. I suspect this is the real reason many adopt amillennialism. They want to be just like Augustine, or Calvin, or Owen, or Packer or Waltke or Whoever, or any of all those cool guys. It's just so cool to be cool. I'll admit it -- I've felt that pull. Just give up, give in, join the RHRG (Really Hip Reformed Guys). Then when they mock and make fun of people who still take all of the Bible seriously, it'll be okay. You'll be on the giving end, instead of the receiving end!

Uh, eh, what??? I certainly didn’t come to my conclusions from reading really hip reformed guys on the subject. I came to the thinking that I have through exposition. While I admit, there have been some writings that have aided that, the questions I raised came from Scripture, not the other way around. True, some may be in that camp, but not I.

Take all of the Bible seriously?? Come on, you can do better than that. I don’t know of whom he is referring. Are any of the guys he cites not taking all of the Bible seriously? Or is this simply a silly charge like the “perspicuity” charge towards the guys at Fide-O? I'm sure the dispensationalists, as well as, the non-dispensationalists are taking the Bible seriously.

Plus, prophecy doesn't require hard work anymore. Just shrug and say, "Jesus. The church. Whatever." Here, I'll show you:
o Mount Zion to be made the capital of the earth? "Jesus. The church. Whatever."
o Israel to be fully restored in spite of all her sins? "Jesus. The church. Whatever."
o Wars and conflicts such as have never happened, followed by unprecedented deliverance for the nation of Israel? "Jesus. The church. Whatever."
o Eight chapters of detailed prophecy about a temple such as has never yet been built? "Jesus. The church. Whatever."
See? Cool!

See? Ridiculous. See? Superficial. See? No real interaction with how those passages are actually interpreted. That seems to mock people who have tried to actually interact with the text and see their fulfillments rather than deal with the arguments, and with that I have a few questions of my own:
1. Who is spoken of as the Israel of God in the New Testament?
2. Who are those restored unto God in spite of their sins in the New Testament? BTW, these are also called the Israel of God.
3. Wars and conflicts followed by unprecedented deliverance for the nation Israel?? Does any dispensationalist really believe that? After all don’t they believe that many if not most of the nation they claim with be slaughtered? And then they still have the audacity to say that “ALL Israel” will be saved.
4. Ezekiel’s Temple? Well, again, we might want to see the distinction between the two temples of the New Testament and also I might throw in the fact that towards the end of the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, we are told that NO temple is in the New Jerusalem, which, by the way is the Church, the Bride of Christ (see vss. 9 and following of that chapter), but the text says,But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

And I'll also say that it's largely true that the coolest have been, to say the least, non-dispensationalists. Most of my greatest theological and otherwise-Christian heroes were not dispensationalists: Machen, Spurgeon, Calvin, van Til, E. J. Young, and on and on.

On this we agree.

But then there's that little principle that I also gained at my conversion, and that has saved my spiritual life countless times. I'm a Christian because of Jesus. My judge is God, my rule is His Word. Other believers (dead or living) are important, but not all-important. My business is with God's Word (Hebrews 4:12-13). This focus has kept me Christian through countless instances of treachery, hypocrisy, betrayal, malice -- and I'm not about to leave it when it comes to formulating my theology.

Again, on this we agree.

But if you're going to let peer-pressure mold your theological system, you had best not think too deeply about John 7:48 ("Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?", the Pharisees snort). No, you'll have to embrace your inner approbation-lust, and ignore the fact that it is the opposite of God-centered faith ("How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" -- John 5:44).
Especially try not to think of your Reformer heroes. In their day, all the coolest guys were Roman Catholic.

Again, I agree. But again, this first point, is simply mocking with no real substance. There are other arguments. I simply wouldn’t buy this kind of argument from non-dispensationalists anymore than dispensationalists, but I find Phillips arguments not compelling. Not only that, but he falls into the very kind of interpretation that those of Jesus day fell into concerning this issue. With that said, please don't anyone take it that I'm saying that Dan is a Pharisee. I am not. I am simply saying regarding dispensationalism, he is in fact imploring the same hermeneutic that the Pharisees and those during the ministry of Christ held to and were constantly being corrected for.

Again, Dan's post can be found here.


Jason E. Robertson said...

Thanks for speaking up.

Tim said...

Hey Jason,

Thanks for the encouraging word.

Anonymous said...

Don't overlook "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," and "Famous Rapture Watchers" while Googling. Just a thought. L. N.

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