Friday, May 30, 2008

MORE Straw Men of Dispensationalism's Critics

Another wave of protestations arose after my last post regarding Dispensationalism as a viable, biblical understanding of God's unfolding plan. Allow me to relate them to you, then , if you like. choose sides! This could be fun! :-D

The words of the Critic:
According to dispensationalism, the way to salvation is unique according to each specific dispensation.
For example, dispensationalism claims that salvation
in Adam's time was by works only;
from Adam to Moses it was by faith plus works;
from Moses to Christ it was by faith plus Law;
from Christ till the rapture it is by faith;
(“The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ...” Schofield Reference Bible, 1115, note 2.)
and in the millennium it will be by works, not by faith.
(This is one of the major doctrines of dispensationalism; dispensations are what give dispensationalism its name.)

Below are some false teachings of dispensationalism:

Dispensationalism has a pre-determined hermeneutic. (Dispensationalism maintains that only the writings of Paul are specifically for the church.)

“The epistles of Paul ... are totally adequate for the growth and glory of the heavenly Body of Christ.” Dispensationalist, Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“The only way to keep the Church totally free of Israel is to center in Paul, because Paul’s source and center is the glorified Lord Jesus Christ, at the right hand of the Father.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“it is our solemn responsibility to pay particular attention to the Word of God through Paul, in order that we may understand it thoroughly and obey it fully.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“Our “private mail” is to be found in the Epistles of Paul.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

In "Judaism or Christianity," William Kelly taught that ‘rightly dividing’ means the Church is heavenly and Israel is earthly.

Dispensationalism believes that Paul had a different message than did the other apostles and Jesus.

Some “have considered Paul merely as one of the Apostles, entrusted with the same message the Twelve were sent to proclaim, the Scriptures clearly that this is not so. Paul's message and ministry were distinct and separate from theirs; to him was committed the doctrine and the program for a new dispensation, a new creation, the Church, never before even contemplated, except in the mind and heart of God.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

The commission of “going into “all the world” with “the Gospel” is a “failure to see that this commission has been superseded by that later given to Paul . . .” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"
“God had since brought in the dispensation of grace through Paul.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“And what of Israel’s Sermon on the Mount in relation to the Church? Why should the heavenly Church be subjected to Jesus pre-Cross message of the kingdom to Israel? What He gave to Israel in His humiliation does not compare with what He gave to His body in His glorification, from His heavenly position via Paul in the Church Epistles.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“There is nothing in all of Scripture to compare with what the Church’s glorified Head has given to her through Paul, so why wander into the far country for sustenance? The Sermon on the Mount is directed to earthly, not heavenly people.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

Blessings in the Sermon on the Mount “are won through personal merit.” Miles J. Standford quoting Lewis Sperry Chafer's comments on the Beatitudes in Systematic Theology, IV, 216-218.

Dispensationalism says that believers in the church and Jewish believers are separated by different futures, different kingdoms, different covenants, and different ways to salvation.

“Pauline Dispensationalism disassociates the Church from Israel, including her New Covenant, her Sermon, and her Kingdom.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“Israel’s New Covenant will neither be inaugurated nor fulfilled until after the Great Tribulation (Jacob’s trouble), nor until the Deliverer returns to earth, nor until Israel’s sins are forgiven.” Miles J. Standford in “The Two New Covenants”

“Israelites are appointed to be subjects of the King in His earthly Kingdom. Members of the Body of Christ are to reign with the King as His Consort in that Kingdom.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Systematic Theology," IV, 47-53

“The very tense of the verb used is important. Under grace, the fruit of the Spirit is, which indicates the present possession of the blessing through pure grace; whereas under the kingdom, the blessing shall be to such as merit it by their works.” Miles J. Standford quoting Lewis Sperry Chafer's comments on the Beatitudes in Systematic Theology, IV, 216-218.

“The essential elements of a grace administration - faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God, unmerited through a perfect standing in Christ, the present possession of eternal life, an absolute security from all condemnation, and enabling power of the indwelling Spirit are not found in the kingdom administration. On the OTHER hand, it is declared to be the fulfilling of “the law and the prophets” (Matt 5:17, 18; 7:12), and is seen to be an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Dispensationalism," 416.

After the law of Moses and grace and truth by Jesus Christ “there will be a return to the legal kingdom grounds and the exaltation of that nation to whom pertains the covenants and promises.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "The Kingdom in History and Prophecy," 70.

My Response:

First, the main source of your statements is "Miles J. Stanford." I have been a Dispensationalist for 25 years -- and I've never heard of this fellow in all that time. I do not recall ANY of his works, or references to his works. Oh, and WHO is "William Kelly," whom you also cite?

Second, the statements that you DO quote from Stanford typifies HYPER-DISPENSATIONALISM, which is a heretical departure from Biblical Dispensationalism. That I DO NOT agree with these statements is witness in itself that it is NOT typical of Dispensationalists. Neither would Ryrie, Pentecost, Holbert, and a host of others who have been and are now representatives of normative Dispensationalism.

Third, whoever said Scofield's notes were infallible? I know some hyper-fundamentalists who might try to push that -- along with KJV only, etc. -- but not one Dispensationalist I know accepts Scofield's notes as authoritative, much less infallible.

Fourth, Chafer's comments you quote on the "Sermon on the Mount" are taken out of context. I cited Chafer in my previous post giving a definitive answer to those critics who would charge him with teaching "multiple ways of salvation." It is disingenuous to charge Chafer with that in light of his clear and direct refutation of such allegations.

Fifth, No Dispensationalist I know teaches that the essential tenants of the message of Jesus and Paul were "different." The "Gospel" was THE SAME. Certainly, the audiences and timing made the APPLICATION of the Gospel different -- but the message and the principles were THE SAME. Paul in many cases simply amplified or detailed how these principles were to be applied in terms the predominantly Gentile Christian culture he ministered to. As you may recall, Jesus' ministry while He was on earth was predominantly to a Jewish audience.

Sixth, the only "pre-determined hermeneutic" I am familiar with is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. It essentially looks to the passage and considers the grammar and word-usage, as well as seeking to understand the audience it was written to, the political, cultural, geographical and historic setting of the writer and the readers, in order to determine the original intent of the author. To me, this is THE PROPER method of exegeting the Scriptures. The plain, literal [unless otherwise indicated by the text], and contextual interpretation is the most logical and Biblical "hermeneutic." How does one disagree with that and remain true to the text?

Seventh, hyper-Dispensationalists are extremists in their understanding of the "discontinuity" between Israel and the Church. While Israel and the Church [as I explained clearly in my earlier post] have different roles in God's unfolding redemptive plan, they share the same ultimate destiny -- that is eternity with God. They may be redeemed at different points in His plan -- and in human history -- but they will ALL be redeemed by the same means -- Jews and Gentiles ALIKE. Most normative Dispensationalists are not that extreme in their conceptualization of discontinuity between the peoples of God.

I would suggest that you go back and read my previous post. I'm not convinced that you even read it. It seems you have chosen primarily obscure examples of hyper-Dispensationalism and attributed to ALL dispensationalists their radical and in some cases heretical views.

After I have clearly told you that I as a Dispensationalist do not hold to these rather far-fetched teachings of hyper-Dispensationalists, are you prepared to continue to attribute them to me, and to conclude that I am a heretic as well? If so, that would be a bit intellectually dishonest, since I have rejected all their teachings just as you have.

I hope we can continue to discuss these issues, because it is clear from your post and others that there are a whole lot of misunderstandings and false portrayals about what normative, Biblical Dispensationalists really believe.


J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

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