Friday, December 01, 2006

Dissing Dispensationalism 6

Next up from Dan’s post.


It isn't a spiritual hermeneutic. Gosh, this one's such a hanging curveball. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Where to start? First, take off that "Plato is my homey" T-shirt, so we can talk. Oops, didn't see that "The Docetists are my crew" T-shirt underneath. Off with that too.

So, tell me: the resurrected body of Jesus -- carnal? Or spiritual? I'll play the Jeopardy music while you look up 1 Corinthians 15:44f. (Hint: God made matter. He's really okay with matter. Matter matters. Sin ruined matter, the regeneration will redeem it.)

Finally, if none of that helped you out of your decoder-ring quagmire, this thought: try not to be more "spiritual" than God, 'kay? When God said Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), He knew it meant "house of bread" -- but He meant the city anyway. I imagine what a CT would have done with that, before fulfillment: "What God is really saying would have been perfectly clear to the Jews. It was symbolic. Messiah would come from 'the house for bread,' from the storehouse of God's spiritual nourishment, and He would give life, as bread does. Those wooden literalists who look for fulfillment in an actual city are perverting the Word to their carnal imaginations."

Trying to out-spiritual God is really stupid.

Do I get to use the Bunky name here?:) JK. Look, obviously there are those things which are carnal and those things which are spiritual. Simply put let’s recap those others that are spiritual though they were spoken of with carnal language. Remember those? The temple from John 2, the new birth from John 3, the living water from John 4, John 6 the bread come down from heaven. In every one of those passages the hearers thought just like Phillips, but in everyone, they were wrong.

Spiritual hermeneutic is not the issue here. Literary hermeneutic is. For those who understand this is where we get the term literal from. When we speak of something literal, we don’t mean normal, we mean words used in the natural context of the kind of literature read. For instance, most of us clearly understand that when we read poetry, we would read it literally, right? Of course, but in that literal reading, we would understand the use of symbolism and imagery. I am not saying dispensationalists don’t do this, but there are times when they cannot see in apocalyptic writings that imposing a literal interpretation that doesn’t go with that sort of literature brings about all sorts of problems.

Is out-spiritualizing God the real issue here? Of course no one is even trying to do that. I don’t know of any a-mils or post-mil theology that views matter as evil, sin tainted, but not evil in and of itself.


Dispensationalists are antinomian. Bologna. I'm the former, and yet I'm not the latter. (In fact, gutless-gracers say I'm a legalist.) Makes just as much sense as saying amillennialists are Roman Catholic, because Roman Catholics are amillennial. Not only is there no necessary connection between dispensationalism and gutless-grace insanity, but the very hermeneutic that produces dispensationalism also deals howling, shrieking death to antinomianism.

While I do know some dispensationalists who are antinomian, I also know some reformed folks who are also, at least in my opinion. This again is not a good argument against dispensationalists in general. This would be specific to the person.


We should interpret the Old by the New. In itself, fine. Show me where the New says the Old is a lie, a fake, a trick -- because that's what replacement theology makes it. What I read in the New Testament is Jesus Christ severely blaming unbelievers for not accepting what's there in plain sight (Matthew 16:1-3; Luke 16:29-31; John 5:45-47). I don't see Him saying, "I really can't blame you for not seeing this -- who could have? It was totally hidden from everyone!"

One hears, "The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed." Given the interpretive violence some folks do to the Word, a more appropriate version I've heard might be, "The Old is by the New restricted; the New is on the Old inflicted."

What is this about replacement theology? Where did that come from. Has he really read CT? I am sure he has. This sounds like some Arminians who attack Calvinists to me. Change what the CTs actually say and then “Gotcha!” That’s not to hard to do. There have been several statements already that I could have done that with Dan’s words, but I don’t think that would be fair to him. His lack of understanding our position concerning the differences in the nation of Israel and the Church and the identical nature of the spiritual Israel of the Old Testament with the Church of the New Testament is simply disappointing.

As he responds to the words of Christ and I agree with part of his point. He fails to also take into account these words from Matthew 13,

"13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ 16 "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Seems to me Dan should take that into account.


You can't take everything literally. Do you mean that literally? Of course you do. {pause}

See number 9 response here. BTW both sides do thisJ


Dispies are over-literal. Have you actually heard a dispensationalist lay out his hermeneutic? People who offer "over literal" as a seriously critique of dispensationalism have seemingly never read a book dealing with hermeneutics, written by a responsible dispensationalist. Try this for an interpretive principle:

When the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, seek no other sense. Therefore, take every word in its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and fundamental and axiomatic truths, clearly indicate otherwise

It's a totally dispensational hermeneutic, and it's an equally dandy Reformed hermeneutic -- or should be. There's quite the chasm between saying "Of course God isn't literally a 'rock'," and saying "Mount Zion -- oh yeah. Has to be the universal Christian church!" Dispensationalists are what all Reformed folks would be, if they were consistent in their hermeneutics.

Well, I’ll give him a C for effort here. The problem comes in the principle itself with that word literal. Again, I wonder how Dan would handle passages that are apocalyptic, even in the Old Testament which seem to speak to the utter destruction of the world, when in fact just a particular nation is being addressed (ie. Babylon). What does he do with passages in the New Testament that clearly spell out the interpretation of Mt. Zion or the New Jerusalem. I mean, I continually come back to this: Why would someone continue looking backwards towards the carnal, when the spiritual reality, interpreted for us by the inspired apostles tells us this? I simply don’t get it.


I think Hal Lindsey is stupid, and I like to make fun of him. Really? I think Harold Camping is stupid and, well, he is pretty easy to parody. Is this helpful?

I completely agree with both of these commentsJ And no, neither one is helpful.


Anthony said...

I have been lurking on your blog for a little while, and I have been very entertained by your Dissing Dispensationalism series. I'm going to go back and read from the beginning. It's extremely interesting.

I noticed your blog when you mentioned FIDE-O (I have a Technorati Watch List for them). Now you mentioned Harold Camping, one of my other favorite nut-jobs. Absolutely riveting.

Tim said...

Hi Anthony,

I don't know quite how to respond. I don't know if this is sarcasm and you consider me and Fide-o nut jobs or what. I didn't know that I was out for entertainment. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I really wish that so many like yourself who do speak out would actually make yourself known in your profile, at least, and actually blog a bit as well. This would probably have helped me understand the tone of your comments.

Anthony said...

Sorry, I wasn't going for sarcasm, but I wasn't calling you or FIDE-O nut-jobs. I guess I could see how someone might infer that.

I have a blogger profile, but for some reason it isn't automatically showing up here. Sorry for the confusion.

Tim said...

Thanks Anthony for clarifying. I appreicate that and I appreciate you taking my comments well too. Thanks for stopping in.

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