Thursday, August 4, 2016

Amillennialism, Dispensationalism & Israel

I was searching through the internet for Puritan resources and came across the Grace Online Library. It has some great materials on the Puritans. Of course I was immediately drawn to the Eschatology Section and this article.

The author states that in any conversation with a dispensationalist he gets asked what he believes about Revelation 20. He (I'm assuming GOL is a male) says they're not amused when he responds that the chapter comes after 19 and before 21.

I confess that I've never had such a conversation, and I wouldn't intentionally go there. In my experience (which is no doubt limited) the conversation is often initiated by the amillennialist and the topic is most often centered on the rapture, Darby, Scofield etc. Ultimately I'm convinced that the heart of these questions lies in the amillennial relationship between Israel and the church.

He writes that he was once a young DTS clone. He'd read dozens of books on "Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism and even the more novel “Pre-Wrath” Rapture position." Then he began reading out of his "comfort zone" and was shocked: my shock and amazement, my favorite Dispensational authors (cf. Walvoord, Ryrie, Pentecost, Chaefer (sic), etc.) didn’t always represent the other side with the fairness such a serious subject deserves.  In fact, there were flat out misrepresentations, caricatures, and enough straw men to make an army.   
We are given links to various titles critiquing dispensationalism. Vern Poythress' Understanding Dispensationalists can be read online.

My reading experience likely hasn't been as extensive as GOL's. But I've read critical books such as Riddlebarger's "A case for Amillennialism", Donaldson's "the last days of dispensationalism", Walker's "Jesus and the Holy City" and sundry other polemical books and articles. I've seen my share of straw men.

It's hard for me to take seriously an article using the words "pseudo Christian cult" and "dispensationalism" in its title, as you see HERE.

Historic Premillennialism is considered to be an orthodox Christian millennial system. Arguments posited against this older form of chiliasm will be in the nature of a disagreement among brethren about non-essentials. The dispensational system, however, differs from orthodox Christian doctrine in many areas. Most of these aberrations will, if seriously considered, end in the denial of the everlasting gospel.
Speaking of straw men - denial of the everlasting gospel? Sadly, this sort of thing is both erroneous and common. Then there's John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus
For my part, I came from an amillennial background and migrated to dispensationalism. Why? Because I once spent a lot of time reading New Age re-interpretations of Scripture. When I got back to the Bible, I wanted to believe what it was saying - not an interpretation which departs from the intended meaning because it serves a theological presupposition. To be blunt, texts such as Jeremiah 31:31-37 are sufficiently clear for me to cast suspicion on any theology which tells me God's promises to Israel are fulfilled in the church. The Covenant Theology approach to these texts serves to maintain the assumption that the church is New Israel. One must perform gymnastics to consistently get that meaning.

Here are a few useful links:

The First Resurrection in Revelation 20

Mayhue responds to Gerstner

Saucy responds to Poythress

Contra the 95 Theses Against Dispensationalism

It's just not "cool" to be dispensationalist...

Book Review:

In Israel's Only Hope - The New Covenant, John B Metzger scours both Testaments to show how and why God's promises to Israel are not forfeit. If you want Scripture without the twist, Metzger's book is a joy. He demonstrates that God will save Israel exactly as He has outlined. The promises are not fulfilled in the church (Fulfillment Theology.) Moreover, Metzger (like Paul Henebury) is not above critiquing proponents of his own dispensational system regarding the New Covenant, dispensations and the church.

You can read my review of his book HERE

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