Monday, June 08, 2009

Let us have an end to Dispensationalism

Among Protestants, there has arisen a dangerous and foolhardy school of thought known as dispensationalism, which has morphed from a known radical theology accepted only by the most radical anti-tradition, anti-clerical, anti-denominational versions of protestantism into a a cause celebre of the non-denominational-loving, pithy worship music playing, cheesy pre-school like slogan using, and soon to be all tongues-speaking "evangelical" movement.

Dispensationalism consists of meaningless speculation on past events, combined with downright dangerous speculation of future events. It originated with the Plymouth Brethren, a group that, like most dispensationalist groups that followed, lacked historical perspective and theological grounding. The Plymouth Brethren were a restorationist group, believing that they could, somehow, recreate the atmosphere of the 1st century church by ignoring everything but the Bible, believing that a 1st century book could be understood by an 18th and 19th century people without any kind of hermeneutical training. The restorationists quite frequently devolved into heresies, often similar to heresies that were already discussed and defeated.

They rejected salaries ministers, meaning that their teachers lacked theological training. It is out of this atmoshphere of ignorance that dispensationalism(and later Pentecostalism) arose.

Let us then, take up (rhetorical) arms against the dispensationalists, infiltrate their schools and places of learning, and teach them theology that makes sense! Let us remind them that the book of Revelations was written, largely in code, to the Christians of the 1st century, not as a guidebook for believers in some sort of apocolyptic future, that the antichrist referred to is Nero, not Nicolai Carpathia.

Protestant opponents to dispensationalism typically fall under what is called covenant theology(although I believe Anglicans and Lutherans have slightly different beliefs), but this is not emphasized in Reformed churches the way dispensationalism is in "Evangelical" ones. Covenant theology is not some complex order of things, but simply an acknowledgement of the different pacts that God has made with various human beings and groups of human beings throughout time. It is not supersessionist (belieiving that the church has in effect replaced Israel), but instead simply teaches the truth that Rabbinical Judaism is different than Old Testament Judaism, as there is no atonement, no shedding of bloods and thus no communion with God.

It is long past time for the Evangelical movement to reject the influence of the semi-heretical radicals and embrace the church's rich tradition, reason, and a more thorough reading of scripture.

7 comments:

Ogden Chichester said...

What has my blog become??? Let's start a fight every night blog?

;)

Ogden Chichester said...

In all truth though, your post could do with more showing and less telling. ;) Show us, particularly those without personal experience of either group, why X is right and proper and Y is so terrible etc.

Crysnia said...

I think the Left Behind series, though entertaining, is just a small part of the issue. I find it extremely disturbing that people are willing to embrace a work of fiction as a basis or as further proof of a belief that has absolutely no biblical proof.

I enjoyed the Left Behind series just as I enjoyed the Da Vinci code. But I was intelligent enough to see them as fiction and enjoy them as such.

Too often we find people too lazy to create their own opinions so they latch on to the outlandish ideals of someone else. It takes the work out of thinking and they can continue to be lazy and ignorant but claim to be something else.

Nathan said...

In fairness you should attack the dispensationalist position as opposed to their persons.

What is it specifically that you say is wrong as it relates to the dispensationalist view of eschatology per Scripture - if that is the standard you are claiming in your post?

And, in regards to your understanding of the term "Evangelical" - the term transcends protestant groups - Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. it seems you would prefer Christianity ignore the great commission to evangelize the world by spreading the gospel?

Christians that are Evangelical are not exclusive to dispensationalist eschatology (nor protestant Christianity I'd say).

Stephen Hamilton said...

Nathan, if you notice I put evangelical in quotes, I despise the way the term has been wholly taken over by the dispensationalists. I do not believe Christians should ignore the great commission, only dispensationalism.

matthias said...

I agree Stephen. I grew up in a staunch dispensationalist household, and I believe that it has been the cause of many splits in churches and amongst Christian friendship.However it has taken hold not only amongst the Plymouth Brethre,but also Baptists,and Churches of Christ,and was one of the causes of a major split in Australian lutheranism in the late 19th Century,that split being reconciled in 1966.
I vacillate between historical premillenialism and amillenialism,. The only good thing that seems to have gone amongst some Dispensationalists is the belief that the Pope and the RCChurch are the beast and the antiChrist.However I note that Dave hunt still propagates this view.I began to change when i read la Haye's book on revelation and he indulged in date setting.

Ogden Chichester said...

It's funny, when people comment on the blog, I get an email. And when I read Matthias' comment, all the ads were for Dispensationalist books! Heh