Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Late Great Planet Church

Well I took the time the other week to sit down for about 2 hours and review the long awaited video from, The Late Great Planet Church (The Rise of Dispensationalism). First and foremost, congratulations to Jerry Johnson and his son Tyler on the production finally being completed. It is very well down both quality wise and in it's content.
This is the first volume in a two volume set that which will be released sometime later. This volume however is an introduction to what dispensationalism is and is not and also discusses the major proponents of dispensationalism such as Charles Ryrie, C. I. Schofield, and John Darby. These are some of the men who made dispensationalism so popular from the 19th and 20th century. Others of late note include such men as Hal Lindsey (where his book Late Great Planet Earth is punned by the title), and those who established Dallas Theological Seminary have turned out millions of people who believe in dispensationalism, though the Bible knows nothing of it. The primary focus of dispensationalism is to somehow divide the people of God into two categories, the geo-political structure of the nation Israel (or those as dispensationalism puts it, who are "physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and those of the New Testament Church. Rather than see the continuity of both the Old and New Testaments in the people of God and those who are really the children of God as one people, they seek to destroy what Christ has established according to Ephesians 2 where he makes from the 2, Jew and Gentile, one new man. There is to be no more distinctions physically. Rather the distinction is purely spiritual. Thus the true Jew, Paul tells us, is the one that has been circumcised not of the flesh, but of the heart.
So this video seeks to attempt to deal with the birth of the thinking of dispensationalism and also those who promoted it. It primarily is not a theology but an eschatology that has then been read back into the Scriptures and thus the doctrines gained do impact one's thinking. At no time in church history was dispensationalism known until the 1800's. So it is relatively new. This does not make it wrong, but one should be careful in believing something that the church has not held to since the creation. Along with the primary distinction of the Church and Israel, there are also other doctrines such as a secret rapture and a 7 year Tribulation somewhere in our future followed by a 1000 year rule of Christ from Jerusalem. There are also disturbing doctrines regarding what takes place in the millenium that I'm sure will be discussed in volume 2.
However for volume one sit back and listen at least to the birth of dispensationalism, the character of it's earliest proponents and at least see if it isn't valid to ask, whether we should not take a serious look at dispensationalism if for no other reason than the character of those who first popularized it, such as John Darby and C. I. Schofield. In the end it is what the Bible says and teaches in its context that determines the truth, but we should be on guard against those who seek to draw sheep after themselves as these men did and then shut off any other believers from them. On top of that some of the disturbing things that were in these men's lives also reflect a lack of godliness and qualification for one to teach the Word of God, much less add notes in a study Bible.
I highly recommend this first installment of "The Late Great Planet Church" for personal viewing, as well as, for groups. Now, if you are a dispensationalist, don't discount what I write here and not view the dvd. Get it and take in the information and then respond to it. I am one that use to be dispensationalist many years ago, but when I was forced to study through books of the Bible an do so in their contexts there is no way one would ever come to the conclusion of dispensationalism apart from someone teaching it to them, because the concepts are foreign to the text itself. With that I will end on the note of encouragement to arm yourself with the facts contained in the video. Jerry is an excellent researcher and makes sure his facts are straight before publishing them. As a former contributer to Watchman Fellowship, a counter cult ministry in Texas, he is widely known and is the president of and writer for the Amazing Grace, The History and Theology of Calvinism DVD. Click the link above to be taken to the web site where you can order this dvd.