1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting after you have posted 20 posts and have received 5 likes.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

  2. Please check out our two newest forums, the "Buy, Sell or Trade" (link ) forum in the Society Category, and the "Conspiracy Theories" (link) forum in our Discussion and Debate Category.

Dispensationalism Defined: Is this correct?

Discussion in 'Dispensationalism' started by gnine, Nov 6, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    I've been struggling with defining what Dispensationalists are, and this is what I've come up with so far.

    Its no easy task, since depending on the argument, it can be as broad as Lewis S. Chafer's definition: ‘‘Any person is a dispensationalist who trusts the blood of Christ rather than bringing an animal sacrifice and any person is a dispensationalist who observes the first day of the week rather than the seventh.’’

    Chuck that definition away - too broad as it includes almost everyone.

    Firstly what it is not: It is not someone who believes that God has different ways of relating to humanity at different times. As this is also too broad. Evidently the OT is different from the NT, so that can't be it either.

    A correcter definition is the interpretation of these different "dispensational eras" is markedly different from other theologies. Not quite sure how yet, but its bound up in the way that prophesy is interpreted.

    I think that dispensationalism says Israel is not a forerunner of the Christian church, they are separate peoples and have separate roles and destinies.

    To the Jews are earthly objectives to be fulfilled on earth, to the church are heavenly objectives, to be fulfilled "spiritually".

    This means that all prophesies that concern Israel must be fulfilled physically on earth for Israel (but may also, not instead of, be fulfilled spiritually by the church). Consequently, there is a strong forward looking premillenial emphasis that looks forward to the time of prophesy fulfilment for Israel (since it clearly hasn't yet been fulfilled physically). According to dispensationalists, at no time does any prophesy given to Israel gain its fulfilment in the church.

    Further, historical passages are always what literally took place in the past, physically, for Israel.

    During the "Church Age", or "Dispensation of Grace", God's earthly, Jewish objectives are put aside temporarily and then continued only when the church is raptured. OT prophesy cannot be fulfilled during this age, because literal fulfilment concerns Israel, and Israel is temporarily sidelined.

    So an application of this idea runs like this:

    Take



    And its NT interpretation:




    To a non-dispensationalist, this seems to say clearly that Joel's prophesy has been fulfilled in the church. But not to a dispensationalist, who distinquishes between the last days for the church (between Christ and the rapture) and the last days for Israel (between rapture and judgement - the "Kingdom Age"). Now Peter is clearly applying the passage to the church, but to in order to make it fit with dispensationalism, the prophesy needed to be bifurcated into a dual meaning, with Peter's application typically termed an "application" or "partial fulfilment" with the literal fulfilment concerning Israel being termed the "Greater fulfilment".

    How am I going so far?
     
  2. LamorakDesGalis

    LamorakDesGalis Praise be to the LORD my Rock

    Messages:
    2,114
    Likes Received:
    15
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Hi gnine,

    One key factor in interpretation is that dispensationalists place a heavier emphasis on progressive revelation.

    By far the majority of dispensationalists today acknowledge there is some overlap between Israel and the church. Peter and Paul were both of Israel and members of the Church. This also applies to all believing ethnic Jews throughout history. Also, the "separate" destiny between Israel and the church is not eternal - it only lasts until the end of the millennial reign. So IMO a more accurate word to describe the differences between Israel and the church is "distinct" rather than "separate."

    The earthly/heavenly duality might have described the approach some took in an earlier period of dispensational history, but it definitely took a backseat to the emphasis on "literal" interpretation. Today this "literal" interpretation has expanded to mean the historical-grammatical-literary interpretation of Scripture.

    Dispensationalists therefore study the covenant promises in their original context - to whom each covenant was given, when it was given, and its implications. For example, the original context shows the New Covenant was specifically given to the house of Judah and the house of Israel. Dispensationalists do not "backread" Gentiles into the original recepients. Most say it wasn't until Acts 10-11 that this New Covenant was first extended to the Gentiles.

    Many traditional dispensationalists do see this present dispensation as an intercalation or parenthesis. Progressive dispensationalists however do not, we view the present dispensation as an important link between previous dispensations and the future. Progressives view the New Covenant as having been inaugurated at the Last supper with an "already-but not yet" aspect of fulfillment to it.


    One key difference in interpretation of this quote is the emphasis of which part. Dispensationalists note that Peter's quote also included the wonders/signs "before the coming of the day of the Lord." That event - the second coming - has not happened yet. Traditional dispensationalists typically emphasize an "all-or-nothing" approach to fulfillment, so they argue that Peter applied the first half of the passage to the day of Pentecost. Scripture application is different than fulfillment, application can be repeated while fulfillment is complete: in Joel's passage the fulfillment is yet future. Progressive dispensationalists argue that the language Peter used (i.e., this is what was spoken...) is fulfillment language, and note that Peter slightly altered the wording of Joel as well. We argue for an "already-not yet" fulfillment aspect to the passage.


    I think you're doing very well in your attempt to tackle a difficult subject!


    Lamorak Des Galis
     
    BT likes this.
  3. BT

    BT Fanatic

    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    213
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Hi gnine,

    Here is a good introduction to dispensationalism. Others who read it may finally get an idea of what dispensationalism is about.

    (Direct Quote: Introduction, "Dispensational Theology", Calvary Baptist Seminary)

    In evangelical protestant circles, the two basic approaches to systematic Bible study and theology are the covenant and dispensational schools of thought. A controversy between their proponents exists because the schools begin with the two different sets of presuppositions.

    The covenant theologian sees God's revelation and man's history as an outworking of God's redemptive purposes for mankind, especially through Israel. It adopts the word "covenant" from the Bible but uses it in a different time framework than those covenants recorded through the Old and New Testaments. It chooses, overall, a less literal approach to Scripture interpretation, and makes no clear distinction between the Israel of the Old Testament and the church of the New Testament.

    Dispensationalism is an approach to theology and the Bible that is based on dividing history into "dispensations" or "economies" which are seen as different phases of God's progressive revelation. The word comes form the Greek oikonomeo and its derivatives, which are found about twenty times in the New Testament and refer to the management or regulation of a household. When used of God, the word means God's sovereign plan for the world (see Lk 16:1-2, Eph 1:10, 3:2, 9; and Col 1:25).

    The dispensational theologian sees God's revelation and man's history as a demonstration of God's graciousness, with God's main purpose being to glorify Himself rather than just redeem man. It chooses a much more literal interpretation of Scriptures, and makes the clearest of distinctions between Israel and the church.

    This is not just an academic exercise carried out by obscure theologians. Some great practical implications are at stake. Both eschatology (study of prophecy, end times) and ecclesiology (study of the church) are brought into question.


    (End quote: bolding added)
     
  4. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    Thanks for those answers, I'll certainly continue my study and post any further questions.

    What is driving this study of mine is an effort to unify the OT and the NT into a common theme of redemption - a challenge indeed.

    Whilst I am uncomfortable with the covenant theologians tendency to tear verses that seem addressed to the nation of Israel out of their context and apply them to the church today, I'm equally uncomfortable with dispensationalist thoughts that may do away with important biblical teaching on the basis that its not relevant to Christians today. The question is... how do I tell which is which?

    I'm not a frequent poster, so it could be weeks or months before I continue this thread. Thanks for your patience.

    g
     
  5. LamorakDesGalis

    LamorakDesGalis Praise be to the LORD my Rock

    Messages:
    2,114
    Likes Received:
    15
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Both Covenant Theology and dispensationalism have far more variety and flexibility than what most people think. In the last 10-20 years the emphasis on Biblical exegesis has caused folks from each "side" to acknowledge Scripture context over standard "system" interpretations. There are Covenant Theologians today who now say the previous CT interpretation of Romans 11 was incorrect - that the passage does speak of a future for unbelieving Israel. Likewise, many dispensationalists now disagree with previous dispensation authors and believe the Sermon on the Mount does apply to Christians today. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of disagreement on interpretation between Covenant Theologians and dispensationalists.

    Ultimately it comes down to presuppositions, priorities, and emphases which one brings to the text. For CT, there is a high priority for the overall plan of redemption, the Covenant of Grace. As a consequence the continuities are emphasized - the church is typically "read back" into the OT through this lense. For dispensationalists, there is a high priority for progressive revelation. The discontinuities are emphasized more - a distinction is made between Israel and the church. This doesn't mean either side entirely rejects the emphases of the other. Dispensationalists do hold to a unified theme of redemption for both the OT and NT and refer to all the saved from all ages as "redeemed." Its just dispensationalists don't think this plan of redemption should override the discontinuities seen in the text. CTers also recognize progressive revelation, they just don't think progressive revelation should be given the high priority which dispensationalists give to it.


    Lamorak Des Galis
     
  6. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Senior Veteran

    Messages:
    2,155
    Likes Received:
    124
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Thanks for your posts in this thread LamorakDesGalis. They help a lot in my understanding of the interaction between dispensationalists and CTs.

    I hope that we can continue to emphasize exegesis and context and eventually abandon our dependency on both these system that I believe cloud good hermeneutics.
     
  7. BT

    BT Fanatic

    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    213
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
    How does dispensationalism cloud good hermeneutics? :p
     
  8. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Senior Veteran

    Messages:
    2,155
    Likes Received:
    124
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Post #40 in the opposition thread. :)
     
  9. BT

    BT Fanatic

    Messages:
    2,488
    Likes Received:
    213
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
  10. Hitch

    Hitch New Member

    Messages:
    1,307
    Likes Received:
    9
    Faith:
    Protestant
    To a non-dispensationalist, this seems to say clearly that Joel's prophesy has been fulfilled in the church. But not to a dispensationalist, who distinquishes between the last days for the church (between Christ and the rapture) and the last days for Israel (between rapture and judgement - the "Kingdom Age"). Now Peter is clearly applying the passage to the church, but to in order to make it fit with dispensationalism, the prophesy needed to be bifurcated into a dual meaning, with Peter's application typically termed an "application" or "partial fulfilment" with the literal fulfilment concerning Israel being termed the "Greater fulfilment".

    How am I going so far?



    You have pointed out that DFs will accept dogma over apostolic authority. Not a good plan for bible reading I reckon. But the gymnastics are fun to watch.
     
  11. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    Can we try and not make this yet another debate thread. There are plenty of those already.
     
  12. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    It seems like understanding properly dispensationalism depends heavily on the definition of "Literal".

    Can someone define "Literal" or "Plain" in a dispensationalist sense so that it is used consistently both hermeneutically and exegesically within the dispensationalist framework?
     
  13. JesusFreak877

    JesusFreak877 New Member

    Messages:
    331
    Likes Received:
    3
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Christian
    Thanks for this post - I have been wondering about this and it helped me answer the question as to whether I am dispensationalist. I am studying the pre-trib rapture and am a student of eschatology but get confused about the distinction between eschatology and dispensationalism as separate subjects.

    God bless!:wave:
     
  14. Terral

    Terral Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    12
    Faith:
    Christian
    Hi Gnine:

    Your explanation was going well to this point. We have been in the same ‘evil age’ (Gal. 1:4) since Genesis 1:2. The same ‘darkness’ of Ephesians 6:12 has been at work in the universe from that time. This same ‘age’ shall continue until the three unholy witnesses of spirit (Satan) water (false prophet) and blood (beast/antichrist) are in the lake of fire. Rev. 19:20, 20:10. A ‘dispensation’ is not a time or an epoch, but a mode of dealing. Today the body of Christ is living within a begotten ‘time’ of restoration not seen by the OT Prophets. The ‘times and epochs’ (Dan. 2:21, Acts 1:7, 1Thes. 5:1) relating to the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) has been placed on the back burner during this created ‘time.’ The restoration now underway does not pertain to the earth, but to the heavenly realm where the rulers of this darkness (of this age) are now passing away. 1Cor. 2:6. We are the members of the body of Christ who shall judge the world and the angels (1Cor. 6:2+3), and the prophecy shall be fulfilled in us, as Paul says,


    No sir. That is the last thing that anybody should conclude. Let’s look at Peter’s first two verses again:

    Has God poured forth His Spirit on ALL MANKIND? No. This prophecy has been made in two separate parts with imperatives being assigned within the prophecy itself. These things are more complicated than first appears on the surface. I am always hesitant in even offer this, until the members of the site can clearly see the two gospel messages of the New Testament, and the two separate ‘bride’ (under Peter) and ‘body’ (under Paul) churches. To interpret the prophecy of Joel, regarding the “day of the Lord” we must assume that Paul and his ‘dispensation of God’s grace’ does not even exist.

    No matter what some here have convinced themselves into believing, our ‘grace’ (Mystery) church did not begin ahead of the steward to which the ‘dispensation of God’s grace’ (Eph. 3:2) was given. This prophecy only concerns the ‘gospel of the kingdom,’ and the kingdom of Israel during the coming ‘day of the Lord.’ The ‘last days’ of Peter’s prophecy does not concern this ‘mystery’ begotten time of the body of Christ church. He is talking about the ‘time’ of the coming restored Kingdom of Israel. Focus upon the exact method through which “His Spirit” is being given through the ‘gospel of the kingdom.’


    Keep in mind what Christ also prophesies about the coming Kingdom, and how things shall end.

    “His Spirit” (Acts 2:17) shall be poured out on ALL MANKIND, but one individual at a time in the same way as these Samarians above, and the ‘disciples’ of Acts 19:6. The antichrist cannot even begin to make the restored kingdom of Israel desolate, until the restrainer is taken out of the way, “so that in his time he will be revealed.” 2Thes. 2:6. The ‘time’ of the antichrist does not come, until the very ‘end of the age’ (Matt. 24:3, 15), and only after “His Spirit” is poured on “ALL MANKIND.” None of the events pertaining to this ‘day of the Lord’ have any application to the mystery ‘body of Christ,’ as we are taken when the ‘day of Christ’ is ‘at hand.’ 2Thes. 2:2. We are gone a thousand years, before any of these end time events transpire. We assume our heavenly positions in place of the forces of ‘darkness’ (Gen. 1:2, Eph. 6:12) who will be bound with Satan “until the thousand years” (Rev. 20:5) are completed. It is not just Satan who is bound, but his ‘body’ also contains ‘members’ just like the ‘body of Christ.’ We are gathered to Christ in Revelation 1:10 (1Thes. 4:16+17) and are with the Lamb under His headship for the thousand years so that the ‘earthly restoration’ can then take place under Elijah (Matt. 17:10+11).

    No sir. Christ connects the ‘times and epochs’ (Acts 1:7) to the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) in the opening of Acts. That ‘time’ is on the back burner as we speak, but shall become active the moment the body of Christ is taken (1Thes. 4:17). These are not ‘ages’ but are ‘times’ of restoration (Acts 3:21). Peter is not prophesying about our current created mystery ‘time,’ because he was not given to see the body of Christ today. These are part of ‘these things’ that he found ‘hard to understand’ concerning the ‘wisdom given him.’ 2Pet. 3:14-16. Peter does equate the ‘day of the Lord’ (2Pet. 3:10) to being ‘as a thousand years’ (2Pet. 3:8), as John did throughout Revelation 20. The key is then to start the “Lord’s day” in Revelation 1:10, while the ‘end time’ events occur in the last half of Revelation.

    The ‘churches’ of Revelation 1-3 are seven church periods that the restored kingdom shall go through during this ‘thousand years,’ when “His Spirit” is poured out on “All Mankind.” When that process has run its course, and all the world has heard the ‘gospel of the [ restored ] kingdom,’ then ‘the end will come.’ Matt. 24:14. Only then will the antichrist come and make the restored kingdom desolate (Matt. 24:15), because then Satan will have been loosed (Rev. 20:7). Then, Christ returns and the ‘great and terrible’ part of Joel’s prophecy quoted by Peter in Acts 2:19-21 (2Pet. 3:10-12) will take place. The members of the body of the Christ will be safely ‘in’ the Lamb for the entire time. When He returns in Matthew 24:30, then we also return with Him in glory. Col. 3:4.


    Anyone who connects Peter’s rendition of Joel’s Prophecy to our mystery ‘body of Christ’ church (Eph. 4:12, 5:30-32) is not accurately handling the word of truth. The ‘church’ being gathered in Acts 2 contains the members of the prophetic ‘bride’ (John 3:29) of the bridegroom prophesied in Hosea 2:19+20. These are all Jews (Acts 2:14, 22, 36) becoming members of the ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exodus 19:6) and the ‘holy nationExodus 19:6, 1Pet. 2:9. Paul’s dispensation of God’s grace is nowhere to be found, as if we are baptized in water ‘for the forgiveness of sins.’ Mark 1:4, Acts 2:38. Today our sins are forgiven through Christ’s shed blood (Eph. 1:7). Peter is not even preaching the right gospel message in Acts 2. Paul would not even submit it to him, until after the start of Acts 15 (Gal. 2:1+2). Peter is adding to the kingdom ‘church’ (Matt. 16:16-19, 18:17) that has been under construction by John the Baptist and Christ for the past three or four years. Peter is still fulfilling ‘Prophecy,’ while Paul would come along later and begin building our current church, according to the ‘revelation of the mystery’ (Rom. 16:25, 5:32). Paul's Epistles are written to the mystery 'body' in the world today, while the Hebrew Epistles are written to the prophecy 'bride' of the coming restored Kingdom of Israel on earth.

    In Christ,

    Terral
     
  15. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    Thats gonna take a while for me to work thru... you'll need to be patient with me.

    ta

    g
     
  16. gnine

    gnine Senior Member

    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    46
    Politics:
    AU-Labor
    Faith:
    Protestant
    Thanks for that post Terral - its very detailed and somewhat too advanced for me at this point. I think that it needs a great deal of background that I don't have yet in order to absorb it properly and form an opinion.

    So in that regard, I'm going to suspend judgement on it for the time being, and try and return the thread to the question of "Literal"

    Can someone define for me how dispensationalists use the term "Literal"?

    Its not a challenge... I just want to understand.:)
     
  17. Terral

    Terral Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    12
    Faith:
    Christian
    Gnine:

    The best way to find out more about any topic is to ask a question. Cut and paste anything from my post above and ask for more information.

    What kind of question is that? Why should a dispensationalist’s definition of ‘literal’ be any different than yours? Are you asking about the regular usage as an adjective, as in a ‘literal’ interpretation? If so, then the meaning would depend on the noun that you are describing. This topic shall continue to appear ‘advanced’ to your thinking, until you receive some answers to the right questions. The beginning of wisdom is in knowing the question.

    In Christ,

    Terral
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Loading...