Lecture 2 The Definition and Necessity of Dispensationalism

  1. The Definition and Necessity of Dispensationalism

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  • Acts 15:20-21 and the logical connection.

Acts 15:20-21 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

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“Morality was not the issue at the Jerusalem Conference.[1] Fellowship was, and the decrees were a sort of minimum requirement placed on the Gentile Christians in deference to the scruples of their Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ.”[2][3]

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“James begins by saying, “For Moses has been preached in every city since days of old.” The conjunction for introduces the reason for the four stipulations. …In brief, James appeases both Jews and Gentiles with his concluding remarks and consequently preserves the unity of the church.”[4]

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“In such contexts, where Moses’ teachings were well known and highly respected, Jewish scruples were sensitive and out of charity should not be violated.”[5]

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James’s concluding statement is puzzling. It may be regarded as saying that since there are Jews everywhere who regularly hear the law of Moses being read in the synagogues, Christian Gentiles ought to respect their scruples, and so avoid bringing the church into disrepute with them. Alternatively, the point may be that if Christian Gentiles want to find out any more about the Jewish law, they have plenty of opportunity in the local synagogues, and there is no need for the Jerusalem church to do anything about the matter.[6]

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  • Galatians 2:19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

By saying that he died to the law “through the law” Paul is anticipating his later discussion of the provisional role of the law in the history of salvation. The law itself, by revealing the inadequacy of human obedience and the depth of human sinfulness, set the stage, as it were, for the drama of redemption effected by the promised Messiah who fulfilled the law by obeying it perfectly and suffering its curse vicariously.[7]

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Up to this point, all Bible interpreters agree with what’s been said. No one has issues with the fact that there is a discontinuation between the OT and the NT (we don’t sacrifice). It’s the degree of discontinuation that is at issue.

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Brief overview of CT and DT

As we’ve been saying thus far, there are two main systems of theology within Christendom. Covenant theology emphasizes a continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament. This of course differs with dispensationalism.

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Dispensationalism emphasizes the variety within the different dispensations of Scripture and that God has dealt differently with men through progressive revelation.

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Covenant theology emphasizes the continuity and dispensationalism emphasizes the discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments. Now, there are similarities between the two and they are not totally opposite from one another. But herein lies the debate.

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Covenant Theology

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Definitions

Covenant theology is the system of theology that centers on God as a covenant-making God and sees in the history of creation two great covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Covenant theology asserts that prior to the Fall God made a covenant of works with Adam as the representative of all humankind. In response to Adam’s disobedience God established a New Covenant through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Those who place their faith in Christ come under the benefits of this New Covenant of grace. [8]

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Covenant theology is a system of interpreting the Scriptures on the basis of two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Some covenant theologians specify three covenants: works, redemption, and grace. Covenant theology teaches that God initially made a covenant of works with Adam, promising eternal life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam failed, and death entered the human race. God, however, moved to resolve man’s dilemma by entering into a covenant of grace through which the problem of sin and death would be overcome. Christ is the ultimate mediator of God’s covenant of grace.[9]

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NOTE: DT and CT are ways of approaching the Bible, interpretational frameworks, hermeneutical systems. They are not a theology per se, in the sense, soteriology or eschatology. They are systems that aid the interpreter approaching how to understand the Bible.

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Below is an overview of both. We will deal with the hermeneutics within each later.

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Covenant Theology

  1. Two Overarching Covenants (some include the Covenant of Redemption[10])
    1. Covenant of Works
      1. This covenant was made by God with Adam (the federal head)
      2. For obedience, God would bless Adam with eternal life
      3. For disobedience, God would judge Adam with death.
    2. Basis and Arguments for the Covenant of Works
      1. Implicit: Ge 2:16–17 (you may not eat of the fruit)
      2. Explicit(?): Hos. 6:7 (“Like Adam, they transgressed the covenant”). See NET note.
      3. “Surely die if eat.” Obviously, the flip side is that they would not die if they did not eat. We could infer he would receive eternal life.
    3. Covenant of Grace
      1. This covenant was made by God with the elect (OT and NT)
      2. God offers salvation to the elect sinner in Christ
      3. Believers in Christ benefit
  2. Basis and Arguments for the Covenant of Grace
    1. Made by God with the elect in which He offers salvation to the elect sinner in Christ.
    2. Unifying phrase of OT and NT: “I will be God to you and to your descendants after you.” (Gen. 17; Ro. 9:8) Since both OT and NT employ it, God’s people of all time are under one covenant of grace. [logical conclusion; not spelled out]

Dispensationalism

  1. Definition: Multiple Dispensations
    1. God works with man in distinct ways (dispensations) through history
    2. God has a distinct plan for Israel over against the church
    3. The Bible, particularly eschatology, needs to be interpreted literally (normally)
    4. Christ will rule with Israel during a literal thousand-year earthly reign.

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  2. Distinctives of Dispensationalism
    1. Dichotomy between Israel and the Church
      1. Church, a Mystery (Eph. 3:1–9; Col. 1:26)
      2. NT distinguishes the church from Israel (1 Cor. 10:32)
    2. Literal Interpretation
      1. Applied to all disciplines of theology, including eschatology, contra covenant theologians
      2. Literal refers to interpretive method, not to kind of language used. Figurative language is interpreted normally.
    3. Eschatology
      1. Future prophecies regarding Israel are taken literally.
      2. OT covenants, if understood literally, demonstrate that Israel has a future distinct from the church (tribulation and millennium).

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This is an overview to give us a framework with which to proceed. We will be building on this moving forward. We will discuss dispensationalism now. We’ll get back to CT in a later lecture.

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  1. What is dispensationalism?

    Below are several definitions of dispensationalism. We will read each one and then formulate the definition for this class.

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  • “Dispensationalism is a theological system that teaches biblical history is best understood in light of a number of successive administrations of God’s dealings with mankind, which it calls ‘dispensations.’”

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    “Dispensational Theology can be defined very simply as a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God. It represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by several dispensations of God’s rule” (Renald E. Showers, There Really is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology, 27).

     “Dispensationalism is a system of biblical interpretation that sees a distinction between God’s program for Israel and His dealings with the church. It’s really as simple as that.” (John F. MacArthur Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, 219).

  • Dispensationalism is “that approach to the Scripture that is studying to whom, about whom, and for whom the various portions of the Bible were specifically written in order to discover God’s past, present, and future purposes in his dealings with mankind.” (Michael Barrett, “Dispensationalism Refuted #1” Audio lecture at Faith Free Presbyterian Greenville, SC. Downloaded from sermonaudio.com)
  • “Dispensationalism is a system of interpretation that seeks to establish a unity in the Scriptures through its central focus on the grace of God.”
    • Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 513.
  • Dispensationalism – A system of theology that sees God working with man in different ways during different dispensations. While ‘Dispensations’ are not ages, but stewardships, or administrations, we tend to see them now as ages since we look back on specific time periods when they were in force.
  • “Dispensationalism is a system of theology primarily concerned with the doctrines of ecclesiology and eschatology that emphasizes applying historical-grammatical hermeneutics to all passages of Scripture (including the entire Old Testament). It affirms a distinction between Israel and the church, and a future salvation and restoration of the nation Israel in a future earthly kingdom under Jesus the Messiah as the basis for a worldwide kingdom that brings blessings to all nations.” (Michael Vlach Dispensationalism)
  • “Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In this household world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the process of time. These various stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these different economies constitute the dispensations. The understanding of God’s differing economies is essential to a proper interpretation of His revelation within those various economies.” [reflected in, and better put by, Barrett above]
    • Ryrie.
  • “God’s distinctive method of governing mankind or a group of men during a period of human history, marked by a crucial event, test, failure, and judgment. From the divine standpoint, it is an economy, or administration. From the human standpoint, it is a stewardship, a rule of life, or a responsibility for managing God’s affairs in His house. From the historical standpoint, it is a stage in the progress of revelation.”
    • Paul David Nevin, “Some Major Problems in Dispensational Interpretation” (Th. D. dissertation, Dallas Seminary, 1965), p. 97. [pulled from http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-WhatisDispensational.pdf]

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    Class Definition: “Dispensationalism is an approach to the Bible[11] to discover God’s progressive revelation of His purposes for man in history. Dispensationalists attempt to understand (1 the Bible as progressively revealed and (2 the different responsibilities of man in history contained in that new revelation. Distinctives of DT include a consistently literal hermeneutic that results in a distinction between Israel and the church.”

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    What is a dispensation?

    So you can have something to work with as we progress forward, Ryrie says…“A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose” (Dispensationalism, 28). Ryrie’s concise definition needs some analysis.

    1. Economy rightly emphasizes man’s stewardship or management rather than a period of time.
    2. Distinguishable emphasizes that a significant amount of new special revelation distinguishes the dispensations from each other.
    3. God’s purpose views a dispensation from God’s viewpoint—not man’s. God begins each new economy by giving new special revelation for His glory. From God’s viewpoint, a dispensation is an economy; from man’s viewpoint, it is a stewardship or management (a responsibility for man).

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    Mine: “A dispensation is a stage in the progress of revelation that specifies the responsibility of man in God’s administration.”

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  1. What do dispensationalists believe?

    Of course, dispensationalists are Christians. There are certain things that dispensationalists believe that are common with being a Christian. That’s not at issue.

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  1. What all Christians believe

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    Every Christian believes in the inspiration and authority of the Bible

    Christians and dispensationalism believe that the Bible is God’s word. God’s word is inspired and is without error in all matters that it addresses. The Bible is the framework through which we interpret biblical and secular history past, present, and future. It is within the Bible that we learn of God’s redemptive historical plan for his creation. What He says in his word has happened and it will most certainly happen.

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    Every Christian believes in at least 2 dispensations

    Christians believe that the Bible reveals God’s plan for human history. We observe within the Bible different dispensations or administrations. Through progressive revelation[12], we learn that God has dealt with human beings in different ways because of what he has revealed. Everybody believes that.

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    If you only hold to 1 dispensation, then you would deny the teachings in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) and you would be of the sect of the Pharisee, teaching that Gentiles must adhere to the Law of Moses. So, every Christian believes in at least 2 dispensations.

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    Dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists believe salvation has always been by faith

    After the fall, salvation is required for a right relationship with God. Salvation has always been faith. Dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists believe this. The content of that faith (“Faith in what?”) was different; the patriarchs didn’t know certain things that Isaiah did, for example.

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    Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

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    But ultimately, God paid the penalty of sin in Christ. Only through God’s Messiah is salvation accomplished.

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    As Vlach (textbook) points out, dispensationalism does not teach multiple ways of salvation and is not all about teaching 7 dispensations. There are silly positions that dispensationalists have held like there is a difference between the kingdom of heaven/God or that the Sermon on the Mount or James’s epistle are not for today but for the Millennium.

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Now, what differentiates dispensationalists from non-dispensationalists?

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  1. What dispensationalists believe

Consistent, literal (normal) interpretation: Dispensationalists believe that, because the Bible is God’s word and because it spells out God’s plan for human beings in history progressively revealed over time, the Bible should be interpreted literally or normally. In other words, the Bible should never be spiritualized/allegorized/“typologized.”

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Non-dispensationalists, on the other hand, do not believe this. They believe, especially with prophecy, that some Bible passages must be understood typologically to understand the “fuller meaning.” Most passages should be interpreted normally, but some passages, they say, need to be interpreted typologically to be understood.

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But if the NT is interpreted so that it transfers OT promises from Israel to the church (as CT requires), then OT believers never understood their Bibles.

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So…

  • “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.”
  • “Let the Bible speak for itself.”

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A consistent literal hermeneutic leads to discontinuity between the OT and the NT. It leads to an emphasis on the distinction between Israel and the church.

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This is the second distinguishing feature of dispensationalism. A consistently literal hermeneutic and now, this leads to a distinction between Israel and the church.

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Distinction between Israel and the Church: And because of the fact that the Bible is God’s word and that it was progressively revealed over time and because of the fact that the Bible must be interpreted literally or normally… because of these things therefore, prophecies concerning Israel will be fulfilled literally. Literal interpretation helps us understand the distinctions between Israel and the Church and literal interpretation helps us understand the future of the nation of Israel. This is where eschatology comes in.

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Understanding the Bible literally or normally leads to the conclusion that there is a future plan for the nation of Israel (Isa. 2:1-4; CT says mountain of LORD’s house=church [Pulpit commentary; Charles Simeon; Isa. 2:3 is Pentecost, Keil and Delitzsch]). Dispensationalists believe in a future plan for Israel as a nation. There is a distinction between Israel and the church. Dispensationalists believe, through normal interpretation, that the church is not spiritual Israel and the church did not exist previous to the coming of Jesus Christ. Non-dispensationalists hold to more of a unity between Israel and the church, that the church is spiritual Israel and that the promises made to Israel are now transferred to the church. You can see the unity in those statements.[13]

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What is required in dispensationalism is a literal, normal interpretation of Scripture and keeping a distinction between Israel and the church.

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Rant: Today, no one arrives at a non-dispensational theology from reading only the Bible. As we saw, the NT passages we’ve read together focus on the discontinuity between the OT and the NT.

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“died to the Law” “dead to the Law” “not under the Law”

The book of Acts is setting us up for Acts 15, where we don’t need to be ‘troubled’ with the law of Moses. This is discontinuity.

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Galatians 3:19; 3:23-4:7

2 Corinthians 3:2-11

Romans 10:4

Romans 7:1-6

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Now, is this continuity or discontinuity? Does the NT emphasize the similarities between Israel and the church or the dissimilarities? If you just read those passages, what do you come away with?

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Clearly we have discontinuity.

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I would argue that you have to read books and theologians other than the Bible in order to arrive at an approach that is non-dispensational. What would be the purpose if you were to pick up the Bible and read it through, never having known what a Bible was…you wouldn’t expect to read it any other way other than normally. You would assume that the laws of language that apply to any other book apply also to the Bible.

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So, the major beliefs of DT are

  1. A consistent, literal (normal) hermeneutic (which results in a …)
  2. Distinction between Israel and the Church

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  1. Why do we need dispensationalism?

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Is this really necessary? Is dispensationalism that important? How important is this to understanding the Bible and practicing it? What ramifications are there for not adhering to some form of dispensationalism?

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In a later lecture, we will detail the eschatological ramifications of dispensationalism. These issues are well known. What may not be as well known is how dispensationalism affects other doctrines. We will talk about the church (ecclesiology), salvation (soteriology), and how we relate to the Old Testament Law of Moses (law and gospel).

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Ecclesiastical Separation[14]: Dispensationalism also affects doctrines such as ecclesiastical separation. Approaching the Scripture from a non-dispensational position can excuse some churches from failing to separate from a disobedient brothers (Mt. 18:15-17). In other words, if the church and Israel are not so distinct, we can model our practice of doing church in light of what God did with the nation of Israel. So if in the nation of Israel there existed obedient and disobedient believers (which there did, by God’s design.); therefore, also in the church there may rightly co-exist obedient and disobedient believers. However, this is well-known to be directly against Scripture (Mt. 18:15-17). So, we see a necessity for the distinction between Israel and the church even here.

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Now, to be fair, non-dispensational theology does not automatically lead to problems with ecclesiastical separation. But one could ask why shouldn’t the church pattern its church discipline program after Israel’s. And why not read the NT back into the OT on this point and make Israel out to practicing ‘church’ discipline like the NT says?

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Infant Baptism: Also concerning the church, denominations that are associated more with non-dispensationalist theology practice infant baptism. In their view, the New Testament sign of the covenant has replaced the Old Testament sign of the covenant. Baptism is the replacement for circumcision. Therefore, we must baptize our infants just as the Jews circumcised their males. Many paedobaptists (infant baptizers) believe that baptism places the child into a covenant relationship with God, but does not actually save the infant. The infant is awaiting regeneration, but as he is waiting, he is in a real covenant relationship with God.

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Non-dispensational theology advocates infant baptism. Arguments for baptizing infants is exegetically weak. It’s rooted in CT first and then Bible passages are shown to support it. “We have our theology; let’s see if the Bible teaches it.” We need dispensationalism! Let your exegesis drive your theology.

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**[Those who hold to CT takes Acts 2 as the pattern/expectation for tongues throughout the book of Acts. In all of Acts, tongues is a miraculous ability to speak an unlearned foreign language as Acts 2 makes clear. So when you come to later occurrences of tongues in Acts, it’s the same thing even though it’s not as spelled out because you already have the precedence set from Acts 2. But why not with baptism? Acts 2 also sets that precedence, they believe and then are saved. So when you come to the Philippian jailer and his household who is baptized, why not also deduce that his household believed?]

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Replacement Theology: Non-dispensationalists believe that the church has replaced Israel. Because the church has replaced Israel as God’s people or because the promises given to Israel are now transferred to the church, CT believes that God has annulled any literal promises made to Israel.

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Hanegraaff, “Just as Joshua is a type of Jesus who leads the true children of Israel into the eternal land of promise, so King David is a type of the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” who forever rules and reigns from the New Jerusalem in faithfulness and in truth (Revelation 19:16; cf. 19:11). In each case, the lesser is fulfilled and rendered obsolete by the greater.[15] This is carried over to promises made to Israel.

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How do you render people obsolete?

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This allows Israel to be on neutral theologically grounds. There is no special place any longer for Israel in God’s program. Thus, the church has replaced/fulfilled/etc. Israel.

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Therefore, Israel is just like any other nation. Emotions can flare up toward those who support Israel as opposed to Arab nations. Of course, this is not a cause. Replacement theology does not cause anger.

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A church example of this is the Presbyterian Church (USA). They have sided with Arab nations and against Israel.[16] Their CT allows them to do this.

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Non-dispensational theology requires some sort of replacement theology or supersessionism. That the church has replaced Israel is part and parcel to non-dispensational teaching.

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READ Romans 11

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file:///C:/Users/greg/Documents/Bible%20Documents/LectureNotes/Dispensationalism/compton.Relationship%20of%20Church%20to%20New%20Covenant.pdf ←similar point on page 35 here.

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SEE progressive covenantalism chapter 9

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Quick evaluation…

But wait…Ro. 11:17 “some”? That doesn’t sound like a replacement. How can 11:24 be possible in CT? “be grafted back in?” How is it their own olive tree if the church has replaced Israel? It would seem that their own olive tree was finished or cut down and a new one planted in its place? Paul seems to indicate that the same olive tree still exists and that Israel, or at least individuals, can come back and be grafted into it.

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If the church replaced Israel, I would expect it to say …

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“…how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own [your] olive tree? Who’s olive tree is this? It’s Israel’s olive tree!

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…and Ro. 11:25, “partial” hardening of one of the groups? Is Israel the church here or…? If the church has replaced Israel, how can the hardening eventually cease (“until”)?

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So, dispensationalism, through its literal hermeneutic, avoids replacement theology.

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Replacement Theology: Hermeneutics drives theology or theology drives hermeneutics?

If one’s theology drives his hermeneutic, then he will interpret Scripture in light of his framework of theology. A replacement theologian, because of his theology, reads the OC and says, “Those promises aren’t to Israel anymore; they are for the church because the church has replaced Israel.”

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Allow me to interpret: “I don’t interpret that literally because of my theology.”

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Because the church has replaced Israel, I must reinterpret these passages to conform to my theology. Therefore, if they are for the church, then they can’t be literal. Land promises wouldn’t make sense for the church. So, there must be some “fuller” meaning to these promises. They must be interpreted typologically in some way.

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Literal land promises for Israel are transferred to the church, typologically. The promises are no longer literal. It must be some typological fulfillment. If this is true, then no OT believer ever understood his Bible. All those promises he read, never meant what he thought they did. They were always for the church, which wasn’t revealed until Jesus and the apostles. But surely that doesn’t make sense! Would God so …hide… His truth like that? Were God’s promises to Israel never literal?

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So we can’t allow our theology to drive our hermeneutics….

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But, what if one’s normal literal hermeneutic drives the theology? Dispensationalists disagree with replacement theology and infant baptism because they are not founded on a normal, literal hermeneutic. In other words, you can’t read the Bible and come away with clear teaching on baptizing infants, or anyone who is not a believer in Christ, for that matter. You don’t come to that position by just reading the Bible.

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Also, the Bible does not explicitly teach that the church replaced Israel. Scripture passages are interpreted in light of the system. It’s the theology that drives the hermeneutic in CT.

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Therefore, we need dispensationalism because it gives us the proper framework in which to do theology. We start with the normal, literal hermeneutic across all genres of Scripture and let that hermeneutic drive our theology whether it be soteriology or eschatology or whatever. We should allow for literary devices, like figures of speech. When, by a literal hermeneutic, we’re told to interpret other than literally, then we do that. But unless we’re given specific direction, we interpret normally. The nature of progressive revelation demands a literal/normal hermeneutic.

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Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants–things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

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Signified could mean to “sign-ify.” If that is the case, there could be symbolic language in the book.

But our literal, normal hermeneutic told us that this might be the case. Interpret normally unless you are clearly told otherwise.

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Take prophecy literally.

1 Ki 20

Daniel 9:1-2

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Moreover, dispensationalism is required because it solves differences between the Old and New Covenants and it also solves apparent contradictions even within the New Testament itself.

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Summary Arguments

  • Exegesis tells us there is a difference between the OT and the NT. [Christians agree]
  • Exegesis tells us that the emphasis of the NT is the distinction between the NT and the OT. We see continuity/similarity, too (9/10 commandments), but when we read of the explanation of the relationship between the testaments, it’s clearly discontinuity that is emphasized (Ro. 11; dead to law; etc).
    • Therefore, we conclude that DT’s emphasis on the discontinuity is justified. (+1 DT)
    • Focusing on continuity, therefore, would distort the Scripture’s focus. (-1 CT)
  • Ro. 11: There is one people of God; Gentiles grafted into Israel’s olive tree. It’s not the church’s olive tree. Therefore, the church has not replaced Israel. Israel may be grafted in again.
    • This is DT’s position, +1.
    • Therefore, we conclude that CT’s conclusion that the church has replaced Israel is invalid. (-1 CT)
  • Based on the above, we further conclude that a literal, normal hermeneutic across all genres of Scripture must take priority. (+1 DT/-1 CT)

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  1. It satisfies differences between the Old and New Covenants.

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Dispensationalism alone accounts for the differences between the covenants. Everybody believes in these differences. Non-dispensationalists do not sacrifice animals. They understand the differences in the dispensations of the Old and New Covenants. But it’s dispensationalism that accounts for the differences.

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Another telling question to ask along these lines is, “Why are only 9 out of 10 commandments found in the New Testament?” Why isn’t the commandment to remember the Sabbath day found in the New Covenant?

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List the 9 in the NT:

1) “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 5:7)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

    Romans 1:25; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Philippians 3:19; Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:9

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2) “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Ex. 20:4;Deut. 5:8)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 10:14

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3)”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Deut 5:11)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Matthew 22:16-22; Eph. 4:1; Ro. 12:1; etc.

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4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8; Deut 5:12)

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  • Not repeated in the New Testament.

Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5

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5) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex. 20:12; Deut 5:16)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament

Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20

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6) “You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20:13; Deut 5:17)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Romans 13:9; 1 John 3:15

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7) “You shall not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14; Deut 5:18)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

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8) “You shall not steal.” (Ex. 20:15; Deut 5:19)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 4:28

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9) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16; Deut 5:20)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Romans 13:9

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10) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Ex. 20:17; Deut 5:21)

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  • Repeated in the New Testament:

Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Hebrews 13:5

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Observing this phenomenon is not the issue; the issue is why does this phenomenon exist? What justifies this reality? You’re answer on this point will determine what you do with your OT.

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Dispensationalism best explains the relationship between the Old and New Covenant. Using a dispensational framework [a literal/normal hermeneutic] allows for a proper exposition of the passages in the New Testament that concern the believer’s relationship to the Law of Moses (later lecture).

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For now, the point is that we need dispensationalism because it satisfies differences between the Old and New Covenants.

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Secondly, we need dispensationalism because…

  1. It solves apparent contradictions

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Some of these examples below aren’t the best, don’t explain much, etc. But it is a helpful exercise to consider. They help draw out the need for some dispensationalist understanding.

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OT Examples

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Capital Punishment for Murder or not?

Pre-Flood: Genesis 4:15 And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

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Post-Flood: Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”

genesis 9:6

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Why a difference between Genesis chapter 4 and chapter 9?

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Laws no Longer Binding?

Lev. 11:4ff with Mark 7:19

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Why are these no longer binding? By what authority can Jesus do this?

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NT Examples

Let’s do a case study within the NT.

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Which Great Commission?

If Jesus were going to send out His disciples, which commission is valid? Why is there a difference? Observing the difference is one thing, but the main thing is the ability to explain the difference.

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Case study → Contrast Jesus’ commissions in Matthew 10:1-23 and 28:18-20. Read these passages.

  • To whom did Jesus commission the disciples to give the message?
    • to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:5-6)
    • to everyone in the world (Matt 28:18-20)
  • What was the message?
    • The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 10:7).
    • Christ died and rose again; repent for forgiveness of sins (Matt 28:19; cf. Luke 24:24-28).
  • What accompanied the message?
    • Heal the sick; raise the dead; take no money (Matt 10:8-14).
    • Baptize and teach (Matt 28:19).

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One could accuse the Bible of contradicting itself. Or, Jesus changed his method or administration after his death and resurrection. Matthew 10 would then apply to a previous dispensation/administration (or the transition between the dispensations), and Matthew 28 applies to the dispensation we are in today. The ministry of Jesus was a transitional period between 2 administrations by God.

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So, for the essay…

What is dispensationalism? Class Definition: “Dispensationalism is an approach to the Bible to discover God’s progressive revelation of His purposes for man in history. Dispensationalists attempt to understand (1 the Bible as progressively revealed and (2 the different responsibilities of man in history contained in that new revelation.”

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Discuss this statement “let your hermeneutics drive your theology.”

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Why do we need it? Examples…

  • Ecclesiastical Separation
  • Infant Baptism
  • Replacement Theology

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  • Law and Gospel

1. Dispensationalism satisfies differences between the Old and New Covenants.

2. Dispensationalism solves apparent contradictions

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  1. Some scholars would disagree strongly with this and maintain that the decrees were primarily ethical from the beginning; e.g., S. G. Wilson, Luke and the Law (Cambridge: University Press, 1983), 73–102. H. Sahlin argues that the Western reading is original and based on the three “cardinal sins” of the rabbis, “Die drei Kardinalsunden und das neue Testament,” ST 24 (1970): 93–112.

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  2. The basis of the decrees in providing a means for fellowship of Jewish and Gentile Christians is also argued by M. A. Seifrid, “Jesus and the Law in Acts,” JSNT 30 (1987): 39–57. A. Weiser describes it as providing a “modus vivende” between the two: “Das ‘Apostelkonzil’ (Apg. 15:1–35),” BZ 28 (1984): 145–67.

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  3. John B. Polhill, vol. 26, Acts, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 332.

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  4. Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, vol. 17, Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 557.

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  5. John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 248.

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  6. I. Howard Marshall, vol. 5, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 268.

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  7. Timothy George, vol. 30, Galatians, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 199.

  8. Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 32.

  9. Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 503.

  10. Covenant between the Father and the Son for the redemption of man. The Son would be the chosen mediator and federal head and be given for the salvation of man (1 Co. 15:22; John 6:38-40).

  11. In other words, “an interpretive framework of the Bible.” Like CT, DT is less a theology and more a way of interpreting the Bible. It all comes down to how you interpret the Bible; it comes down to your hermeneutic.

  12. Progressive revelation is God giving successive revelation to man through the progress of history. God gave the original writings of the Bible over time. With each new revelation, potentially, is new responsibility.

  13. Cite how they interpret it today, namely, in the New heaven and New earth.

  14. Larry Oats, “Dispensationalism: A Basis for Ecclesiastical Separation” (Conference on Baptist Fundamentalism, Watertown, March 2003).

  15. Hanegraaff, Hank. The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times… and Why It Matters Today (p. 201). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

  16. http://more.mbbc.edu/journal/files/2011/02/Volume-1_1.pdf; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_Church_(USA)_disinvestment_from_Israel_controversy

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