Lecture 6 Dispensationalism versus Covenant Theology

  1. ND vs. CT vs. NCT vs. PD

See NCT Compared CT – v.1.7 in files

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Introduction

In this lecture, we will, in more detail, contrast normative dispensationalism, covenant theology, and progressive dispensationalism. We will proceed by determining where each theology stands on 3 important issues.

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Note: Gentry and Wellum’s position in Kingdom Through Covenant is “progressive covenantalism.” It is a type or a viewpoint under the umbrella of New Covenant Theology, though they are charting their own course. Michael Vlach’s review of KTC is the best review available.

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  1. The Sine Qua Non (without which, not or the “essential elements”)
  2. Hermeneutics
  3. Israel and the Church

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Some of these we will deal with more brevity because their position has already been made clear.

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  1. The Sine Qua Non (essential elements)

    The Sine Qua Non of Normative Dispensationalism

As Ryrie and others have it, the three essential elements of normative dispensationalism are

  1. A consistent literal interpretation of the Bible, including prophecy
  2. An emphasis on the distinction between Israel and the church
  3. God’s ultimate purpose in the world is to glorify himself

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ND teaches that the first principle clearly leads to the other two.

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However, normative dispensationalists are also known to divide up history into 7 dispensations.

The Sine Qua Non of Covenant Theology

History

Ryrie comments that covenant theology “arose … late in the sixteenth century. The first proponents of the covenant view were reformers who were opposed to the strict predestinarianism of the reformers of Switzerland and France.”

Here are some men associated with early thoughts that reflect CT.

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  • Johann Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575)
  • Andrew Hyperius (1511-1564)
  • Kaspar Olevianus (1536-1587)
  • Rafael Eglinus (1559-1622)
  • William Ames (1576–1633)
  • Johannes Wollebius (1586–1629)

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However, it was Johannes Cocceius (1603–1669) who was a leader in the development of covenant theology. He taught a covenant of works with Adam and he taught a covenant of grace.

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And it was Hermann Witsius (1636–1708) gave further clarification to covenant theology.

He defined the covenant of works as “the agreement between God and Adam created in God’s image to be the head and prince of the whole human race, by which God was promising him eternal life and felicity, should he obey all the precepts most perfectly, adding the threat of death, should he sin even in the least detail; while Adam was accepting this condition.”

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The Westminster Confession 1646 is sort of CT’s “Scofield Reference Bible,” your “go to” source for CT.

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The following are the indispensable elements of CT.

  1. Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are the two overarching covenants that govern the understanding the Bible.
  2. Hermeneutics: Reading the OT in light of the NT (or, “reading the NT back into the OT”).[1] See NET Gen. 1:2 note 7. You don’t read later writings back into early writings.
  3. God’s ultimate/main purpose is soteriological

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Mainly because of #2, this naturally leads into a denial of any future for the nation of Israel as well as a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth. Specifically, number two above leads them to this conclusion and we will consider this a bit later.

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The Sine Qua Non of New Covenant Theology

New Covenant Theology (NCT) arose out of Reformed Baptist circles as a reaction against some tenets of CT. It has grown in numbers and influence since the 1970’s. Leaders are Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel (New Covenant Theology, 2002), [deacon name] Lehrer (New Covenant Theology: Questions Answered, 2006), Jon Zens (searchingtogether.org), Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum (Kingdom through Covenant, 2012), and John Reisinger (Abraham’s Four Seeds, 2012; New Covenant Theology and Prophecy, 2013). Providence Theological Seminary, Sound of Grace Ministries, The John Bunyan Conference, and In-Depth Studies are programs that promote NCT.

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NCT attempts to find a middle road between CT and DT. Due to its recent development, it is still developing and to assert a sine qua non may be a bit premature.

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NCT rejects the covenants of works, grace, and redemption, and that the believer today is not under obligation to obey the Mosaic Law, which is viewed as a unity (no moral, civil, ceremonial distinctions). Christians today are under the Law of Christ only. NCT doesn’t practice a normal, historical-grammatical hermeneutic in some OT passages. Similar to CT, NCT holds to supersessionism, emphasizing that the church fulfills Israel. Adherents reject infant baptism and believe the church began at Pentecost (agreement with dispensationalism). [2]

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Note: Gentry and Wellum are technically progressive covenantalists. “Progressive covenantalism has affinity with the theological movement that has been called ‘new covenant theology,’ but there are also some differences. For example, progressive covenantal theologians make the case for a creation covenant, whereas some within new covenant theology do not.”[3]

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“In KTC we said that our view was a subset of new covenant theology (NCT), but we did not prefer that label, hence the reason for the title of this present work. Even though we respect many who are identified with NCT, our hesitation to use the label was because we were not in full agreement with the diverse views fitting under its banner. For example, some in NCT deny a creation covenant and Christ’s active obedience and imputation of righteousness and hold little instructive place for the Mosaic law in the church’s life— all points we reject. 4 In addition, some distinguish the old and new covenants merely in terms of the categories of external and internal, or that the old covenant was not gracious, or follow the “unconditional-conditional” covenantal distinction— all ideas we cannot endorse. 5 Yet some who embrace NCT also resonate with our proposal, although we prefer to use the “progressive covenantal” label.”[4]

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The Sine Qua Non of Progressive Dispensationalism

Progressive dispensationalism is somewhat difficult to nail down. It’s basic essentials are likely the following.

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  1. “Complementary hermeneutics”
  2. Christ is seated on the Davidic throne in heaven (but not yet on earth)
  3. Church is a mystery, in the sense of it being unrecognized in the OT, but not in the sense of it being unrevealed.
  4. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not unique to the Church age.[5]
  5. Purpose of God relates to the Kingdom of God

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  1. Hermeneutics

    Normative Dispensational Hermeneutics

    As we’ve said, normative dispensationalism holds to a consistent, literal hermeneutic. This includes interpretation of prophecy. This means that there is only one true interpretation of each passage. The passage only means one thing but you can have different applications.

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    Words cannot mean more than one thing in the same usage. Without this principle, language cannot communicate anything. A Scripture passage, therefore, cannot have a “deeper” meaning or multiple meanings.

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    Proof #1: Language is by nature univocal. It has one voice.

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    Bob: “There are no absolutes. What is true for you, might not be true for me.”

    Tim: “Is that statement an absolute?”

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    Bob used an absolute statement to deny absolutes. That’s illogical.

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    Similarly…

    Bob: “Language does not have only one meaning.”

    Tim: “I can’t know what you really said.”

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    Bob used the univocal nature of language to deny that language only has one meaning. That’s also absurd.

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    Proof #2: God’s relationship to man and his language.

    • God made man.
    • God made human language.
    • God purposed to communicate to man in man’s language.
    • Man’s language is meaningful and we naturally understand one another through the univocal nature of language.
    • True, honest communication occurs only when we receive one another’s statements at face value.
    • Therefore, seeking a deeper sense or second meaning or changing the meaning of old revelation in light of new revelation runs contrary to true honest communication.

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    Reading between the lines?

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    Proof #3: Prophecy was fulfilled literally in the First Coming

    These were fulfilled literally….

    Dan 8

    Isa. 44:28-45:1

    Babylon: Isa. 13:19; 14:23;

    Isaiah 7:14: Born of a virgin

    Micah 5:2: At Bethlehem

    Zechariah 9:9: Entry into Jerusalem

    Isaiah 53: Death and Burial of Messiah; atonement

    Zechariah 11:12: Sold for 30 pieces of silver

    Zechariah 11:13: Potter’s field

    Daniel 9:24-27: Date of First Coming

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    Daniel 9:24-26 (NKJV) 24 “Seventy [sets of seven[6], Lit. “sevens”] are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. 25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince (this is the Christ), There shall be seven [sets of seven years] and sixty-two [sets of seven years]; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 “And after the sixty-two [sets of seven years][7] Messiah shall be cut off, ….

    So, how many years was it from the command to restore Jerusalem to the cutting off of the Messiah?

    God told Daniel that it would be 69 sets of 7 years (=483 years) before the Messiah would come and be cut off (die).

    Question: Was there a command to restore Jerusalem 483 years previous to the death of Jesus of Nazareth?

    Yes!

    There are more than 1 actually, but we will look at the right one. King Artaxerxes ordered Nehemiah “to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” in Nehemiah 2:1-8 in the year 444 b.c. From that year, Gabriel predicted that it would be 483 years to the time of Christ’s death. Now if we take A.D. 33 for the death of Christ (widely accepted and has great arguments), the math works out perfectly.

  • Seven sets of seven years equals 49 years.
  • 62 sets of seven years equals 434 years.
    • This equals 483 years. There is 483 years from the order to rebuild to the cutting off of the Messiah.
  • Artaxerxes ordered Nehemiah in the year 444 B.C….[8]
  • Problem: From 444BC to 33AD is 477 solar years! We seem to be six years off.
  • Solution: Jews then used a lunar year, not a solar year. There are 5 fewer days per year in a lunar year. We should use a 360 day calendar, not a 365 day calendar.
    • Therefore, calculating 5 fewer days per year, we get 6 additional years. 5days x 477 solar years = 2385 days or about 6 additional years.
  • 477 solar years+6 more years = 483 years.

    477 solar years=483 lunar years

    [did Jews have leap years?] • “Leap months” are added to sync up with sun cycles

    Using the 360-day year the calculation would be as follows. Multiplying the sixty-nine weeks by seven years for each week by 360 days gives a total of 173,880 days. The difference between 444 B.C. and A.D. 33, then, is 476 solar years. By multiplying 476 by 365.24219879 or by 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.975 seconds, one comes to 173,855.28662404 days or 173,855 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes, 44 seconds. This leaves only 25 days to be accounted for between 444 B.C. and A.D. 33. By adding the 25 days to March 5 (of 444 B.C.), one comes to March 30 (of A.D. 33) which was Nisan 10 in A.D. 33

    This is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. So the above includes unseen the leap year calculations.

    Is God not capable of fulfilling these literally?

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 5:28; John 14:3

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    If you don’t interpret literally, then can you interpret at all? No one has any way of being objective. What do these words mean? Language is meaningless and unhelpful and fails to communicate if not taken literally.

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    In fact nothing I’ve said to you in this lecture can be known. I did not communicate or present my arguments, etc. the way you think I did. The information that I gave you actually is to be reinterpreted in light of everything on your own subjective whim. Didn’t know that did you? Good luck on the test!

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    So language has only one meaning, with many possible applications.

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    Also, authorial intent determines a specific meaning.

    The text cannot mean today what it never meant. If in 1963, I wrote you a letter and my original intention was to communicate that I was going to have an Apple iPhone and through that I could access the Internet with thousands of pages information all for free. In 1990, because you hear about the Internet and because the whole iPhone thing hasn’t happened yet, you cannot change the meaning of what I said. (he meant an old apple computer on the Internet). I said what I said and you don’t have the right to change it!

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    Then sure enough in 20 years, it was true! All interpreted normally!

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    Authorial Intent

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    Text can’t mean what it never meant. Yes, it’s a divine-human book. But we can’t take out the human element for the sake of what we might think is the divine element. God’s ways are higher than our ways and the only way we know that is because the Bible tells us plainly.

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    So….

    The Scripture has unified authorship

    Bible does not have dual authorship. The human author did not mean one thing while God meant another.

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    But “fuller meaning” (sensus plenior) advocates point to…

    1 Peter 1:10-12 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

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    They say, “See, the prophets did not know. They were searching and asking and seeking to know…what their own prophecies were about. Therefore, what they wrote actually contains within it another, fuller meaning.

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    They say there is another meaning that was

    1. Intended by God
    2. Not intended or understood by the human author
    3. Not understood by the original audience, and
    4. Not known to exist until it was discerned and revealed by the NT writer

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    Therefore, they say, we have to read the NT back into the OT (this is CT’s position).

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    *The prophets here were not attempting to make sense of their own prophecies, as the CT crowd seems to be saying, but were rather simply attempting to identify what it actually was that God was revealing to them. They were attempting to interpret the prophecy!

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    Illustration:

    Let’s say I want to go on a long vacation after this week of teaching with my family. If I tell my wife, “go tell the kids that when I come home after this week of teaching, that I will have a surprise for them.” And then my wife, as the “prophet,” goes and informs them that I have a surprise for them.

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    Now, the “prophet” doesn’t possess the full picture of my plans for the future. That’s true, but it’s not because I gave her all the information and the true meaning is hidden within my speech. No, she does not understand the full picture of what’s going to happen because she doesn’t know all of what I didn’t tell her. So when she says that daddy has a surprise when he comes home, she is accurately relaying the message she was given. She received revelation.

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    Then the next day, I might give further revelation that they should pack their beach balls.

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    There is no fuller meaning in any of that. This is all honest, true, straightforward communication. The prophets in the Old Testament knew exactly what they were given. They communicated it perfectly and literally. They were given literal words and they gave the words literally. And they meant what they said.

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    Covenant Theology Hermeneutics: Reading the OT in light of the NT

    Or reading the NT back into the OT.

    Now, covenant theologians do use the literal method just as dispensationalists do. The difference is not in using the literal method; the difference is in how consistent each camp is in using it. CT applies the literal method to most Scripture except for the prophetic passages.

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    Floyd Hamilton is a covenant amillennialist. He writes…

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    “Now we must frankly admit that a literal interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies gives us just such a picture of an earthly reign of the Messiah as the premillennialist pictures. That was the kind of Messianic kingdom that the Jews of the time of Christ were looking for, on the basis of a literal kingdom interpretation of the Old Testament promises.”[9]

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    Unless what he says has a fuller meaning, I’m going to take this as a +1 for dispensationalism.

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    Vern Poythress, CT, says…

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“I claim that there is sound, solid, grammatical-historical ground for interpreting eschatological fulfillments of prophecy on a different basis than preeschatological fulfillments….It is therefore a move away from grammatical-historical interpretation to insist that (say) the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah” of Jeremiah 31:31 must with dogmatic certainty be interpreted in the most prosaic biological sense, a sense that an Israelite might be likely to apply as a rule of thumb in short-term prediction.[10]

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In other words, “you can’t take Israel and Judah as literally Israel and Judah.” “House of Israel” and “house of Judah” can’t mean them in the biological sense. The NC can’t be made with Israel, right? “Right, the church has replaced Israel we know that… ahem…” (-1).

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This then ignores progressive revelation. The Israelite during Jeremiah’s day would have understood it literally. In other words, doesn’t progressive revelation matter? Doesn’t it matter how God communicated it to them and how they would have understood it? Doesn’t revelation mean something when it’s given at the first? Do we have to read it in light of NT revelation?

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If CT is true, then perhaps we should read our NT in light of revelation we don’t have. Perhaps salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection,…really doesn’t mean what we think it means and God gave or will give further revelation that “changes the meaning” of this basic doctrine? Just b/c Paul argues it’s always been that way (Ro. 4) doesn’t mean it will always be that way, right? Maybe church tradition as it developed into more of a works system of salvation is right and we should view church tradition as divine revelation and join the Catholic Church then?

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Where do you stop with this? We would rightly have to question our understanding of the NT now and we would have no idea what we’re really reading in any part of our Bibles.

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Illustration: It’s like claiming that it’s perfectly legitimate for me to tell my wife to tell the kids “Tell them that I’m going to make the kids promises that I’m going to buy them a lot of candy when I come.” And then instead in the end, I actually discontinue our relationship (church replaced Israel) and destroy their playhouse (temple) and get some new kids (church). And I never give them the candy. How, legitimate is that?

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No, God meant what he meant back in the Old Testament and it means today what it meant back then. It meant what it meant back then and it means what it meant today.

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But CT folks say we should read the NT back into the OT. This is how they read the OT in light of the NT.

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One people of God. The church is the people of God. Therefore, the church replaced Israel. Therefore, the Jer. 31:31 refers to the church.

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How is this justified?

“Whether the figurative or “spiritual” interpretation of a given passage is justified or not depends solely upon whether it gives the true meaning. If it is used to empty words of their plain and obvious meaning, to read out of them what is clearly intended by them, then allegorizing or spiritualizing is a term of reproach which is well merited.”[11]

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In other words, if it fits in my understanding/system, then I see it as the true meaning. “If it works the way I want it to, then it’s justified.” That’s what I’m hearing. Since the church has replaced Israel, therefore Judah, etc., in Jer. 31:31 means the church.

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But how can this be tested? Can you put interpretations like this to the test, comparing Scripture with Scripture? It throws out any objectivity.

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Principle: The problem for CT is that they begin by reading the NT into the OT and thus deny the validity of progressive revelation (they don’t believe that the OT saints could have possibly understood their Bibles; therefore, today we have no certainty of that either. How scary is that?).

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New Covenant Theology Hermeneutics

NCT shares CT’s view that the OT must be understood in light of the NT, that the NT doesn’t employ an historical grammatical approach to interpreting some parts of the OT. In this view, the NT’s interpretation of these OT passages overrules the original meaning of the OT.

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Reisinger in his NCT says, “One of the basic presuppositions of NCT is our insistence that the New Testament must interpret the Old Testament.”[12]

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He continues,

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“When we apply the NCT principle of allowing the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament, Whitcomb’s view [of a literal millennial temple from Ezek. 40-48] seems to lack biblical support. When we ask, “What does the New Testament say about the temple God would build, about the priests who would serve in that temple, and about the sacrifices they would offer,” not a single New Testament text literalizes the temple, the priesthood, or the sacrifices. Each of these three is spiritualized in the New Testament Scriptures.”[13] [comment?]

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He says, referring to Ps. 22 (see vv.:1, 16)

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“No one would insist that four legged bulls, four legged dogs and four legged roaring lions were gathered around the cross. The text is describing, in symbolic language, two legged men who were acting like mad bulls, furious lions and barking dogs. All interpreters, including the most die-hard Dispensationalists, will agree that such an interpretation of Psalm 22 is “obvious” and clearly demonstrated by the context. The language in these texts cannot be taken in a “literal, grammatical, historical” sense. They must be understood symbolically.”[14]

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I think his point is that the NT interprets that prophecy and only until the NT do we discover that the Ps. 22 is partly symbolic, e.g., dogs. However, back in 1 Sam. 24:14 tells us there is a symbolic use for ‘dogs.’

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Furthermore, since die-hard DTers hold to a “literal, grammatical, historical” hermeneutic and they interpret Ps. 22 the way everyone else does, that interpretation fits within the mold of a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic!

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Lehrer, “[Romans 9:24-29] is notoriously difficult to interpret because Paul seems to use verses from Hosea and Isaiah in ways that the prophets never intended.”[15]

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Wells and Zaspel likewise are quoted as saying, “[I]t has seemed to some of us that if the New Testament is the apex of God’s revelation, then we ought to read the earlier parts of Scripture in its light.” Also, “[T]he NT holds logical priority over the rest in determining theological questions upon which it speaks.”[16]

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Which, as Barrick points out, is a “strange position.”[17] Say Lehrer is right and “Paul seems to use verses from Hosea and Isaiah in ways that the prophets never intended.” What you’re in effect saying is that Holy Spirit communicated a meaning not intended by the Holy Spirit.

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[deacon name] Lehrer writes…

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“Now that the stage is set for understanding this passage, let’s look at the verses one by one:

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The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (v. 31).

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“God says that He will make this New Covenant with physical Israel and Judah. If you read the verses that surround this text as I wrote out above, it is crystal clear that this New Covenant, in its Old Testament context, is promised to the geo-political nation of Israel at some point in the future.”[18]

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The point is that he admits a normal interpretation of the passage means that God made the New Covenant with physical Israel and Judah. But he doesn’t view it this way.

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He writes, “It is absolutely essential that we see that the promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah was made to the picture of the people of God is actually fulfilled in the real people of God (all believers, both Jews and Gentiles) through the work of Christ on the cross.”[19]

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Israel then never could have understood this passage in Jeremiah 31. When God gave this through Jeremiah to the nation of Israel, their hope that the New Covenant was meant for them was futile because, according to NCT, it was never meant to be. [20]

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One must ask, on what grounds can the NT overrule the original meaning of the OT? True, the NT writers apply OT texts to their point or otherwise use the OT to argue for a truth or ethic for the church today, but that in no wise demands disregarding the original meaning of an OT text. Because Paul quotes Hosea perhaps in a nonexplantory fashion but simply applies the texts, (cf. Amos 9 in Acts 15), that doesn’t demand that we wipe out the original meaning as it was given to the original audience. It meant something back then too! Perspicuity would be thrown out the window so that the original audience wouldn’t have been able to understand God’s revelation at all!

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One would wonder if in the NCT perspective of hermeneutics is that the Scripture has been broken (contra Jesus in John 10:35) or if a jot or a tittle has passed away (contra Jesus in Matt. 5:18)![21]

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Progressive Dispensational Hermeneutics

They hold to the literal method, as do CT and ND. CT doesn’t apply it to prophecy. But, when it comes to the Davidic Covenant (and possibly others), PD holds to what they call a complementary hermeneutics.

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Darrell Bock writes…

“The New Testament does introduce change and advance; it does not merely repeat Old Testament revelation. In making complementary additions, however, it does not jettison old promises.”[22]

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Like CT, PD interprets prophecy symbolically.

Contra CT, they keep the OT original literal reading.

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The NT changes, advances, and adds to while not jettisoning the original meaning.

This is their complementary hermeneutics and they advocate a multilayered reading of the text. Later revelation is the vantage point from which we interpret the older revelation.

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The three layers…

  1. Original: The meaning of the original historical setting
  2. Complementary: Views the older revelation from the vantage point of newer revelation (sounds like CT)
  3. Canon: viewing the text in light of the entire canon of Scripture

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Therefore, theoretically, there are three possible interpretations of a single text [look this back up? 3 really? Could #3 above be read into a single passage]. This is Bock’s historical-grammatical-literary reading of the text.

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He says this produces layers of sense as the Bible reader moves from considering the original context to more distant context.

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So the original historical setting of a passage does not “freeze” the meaning of the text. Yes, he would say, it meant what it says back then. But with PD, the historical meaning of any passage can change, although it never loses it’s original meaning. It can change through the addition of new meanings.

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Progressive dispensationalism does not demand that the historical setting fix in stone the meaning of any passage. But traditional hermeneutics rejects this. Traditional hermeneutics as found in ND does not allow a passage to gain additional senses as it comes into new settings.

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Whereas ND holds to one interpretation with many potential applications, PD attempts to refrain from limiting a passage to any one single meaning. It allows for later complementary additional meanings, which would, of necessity, change the original sense of the passage, although not jettison it entirely.

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ILL: I suppose that would be like me telling my wife to tell my kids that I’m going to give them a lot of candy. Later, I tell them I’m also going to give them apples. And then instead of giving them a lot of candy and apples, I buy them lots of candied apples.

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This is justified, Bock says, by claiming the progress of revelation. He allows for the progress of revelation to alter, if ever so slightly, the original meaning of the passage.

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He tries to justify this change by calling it revelatory progress, but whatever … the fact remains the meaning of the text has changed. This contrasts with ND hermeneutics that denies the possibility of a passage having multiple meanings.

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ND hermeneutics denies any possibility of a passage having multiple meanings and the possibility of the original passage changing in meaning. ND hermeneutics does not adhere to multiple meanings. It’s multiple applications but one meaning.

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ILL: For ND hermeneutics, if you wanted to talk about apples and candy again.

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I suppose that would be like me telling my wife to tell my kids that I’m going to give them a lot of candy. Later, I tell them I’m also going to give them apples. And then instead of giving them a lot of candy and apples at the same time I space it out over many days.

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Sounds like the coming of Jesus, doesn’t it? The Jews believed that Messiah was coming to rule on this earth. They are right. Just not the first time.

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And so to change the substance of something already written, I would not call it progress. I would call it altering the meaning or changing it. And then this would raise questions about how honest or credible the original text’s meaning is.

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ILL: In other words, how forthright and honest and true was I when I promised candy and I gave candied apples?

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Example of PD “Complementary Hermeneutics”

Let’s read…

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2 Samuel 7:12-16 12 “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”‘”

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All agree that originally this is an earthly covenant made with David about the Messiah sitting on the Davidic throne. This is an earthly throne; an earthly kingdom. Do you see the throne? Do you see the Messiah? Messiah’s kingdom/throne and David’s kingdom/throne is one and will be established forever on earth. That’s clearly the original context.

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Progressive dispensationalism teaches that when Peter alluded to Psalm 110:1 and Psalm 132:11 in his sermon of Acts 2, Peter added to its meaning and changed the meaning of those passages.

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Psalm 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

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Psalm 132:11 The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.

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As you read in Acts 2, note the following question. When Peter was preaching, did Peter add to the meaning of the original passages? What is Peter’s main point?

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Read Acts 2:24-35

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“Peter establishes the Davidic connection by linking Psalm 110 to Psalm 132 and thus to 2 Samuel 7. . . . Both of these Old Testament texts [Ps. 110, 16] from the Psalter are seen beyond any doubt as presently fulfilled in the Resurrection, with Psalm 110 fulfilled at least in terms of inauguration. Peter goes on to declare that this Lord (Jesus) sits by God’s side until all enemies are a footstool for the Lord’s feet, something that is yet to be realized. So inauguration is present but consummation is not.”[23]

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“The meaning of the right hand of God in Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:33 is, therefore, the position of messianic authority. It is the throne of David.”[24]

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“Beginning in Acts 2, Jesus’ apostles began to preach that His resurrection was the fulfillment of the covenant promise to ‘raise up’ David’s descendant. The promise to raise up a descendant, in 2 Samuel 7:12, is connected with the promise to establish His kingdom or, putting it another way, to establish His throne. Peter argues in Acts 2:22-36 that David predicted in Psalm 16 that this descendant would be raised up from the dead, incorruptible, and in this way, He would be seated upon His throne (Acts 2:30-31). He then argues that this enthronement has taken place upon the entrance of Jesus into heaven, in keeping with the language of Psalm 110:1 that describes the seating of David’s son at God’s right hand.”[25]

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every New Testament description of the present throne of Jesus is drawn from Davidic covenant promises….In Acts 2:30-36, the resurrection, ascension, and seating of Christ in heaven at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1) are presented in light of the prediction ‘that God had sworn to him [David] with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne’ (Acts 2:30). No other throne is discussed in this text except the Davidic throne.”[26]

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PD seems to argue…

  • David was promised that the Messiah will sit on the earthly Davidic throne. (2 Sam. 7)
  • Peter preaches that Jesus sat down at the Father’s right hand (Ps 110)
  • Peter preaches that Jesus was the fruit of David’s body and that He will be set upon David’s throne (Psa. 132)
  • The throne is mentioned in 2 Sam. 7 and Psa. 132 (v.30), which Peter quotes.
  • The Father’s right hand in Psalm 110 is about the ascension/exaltation.
  • Jesus is now ascended up at the Father’s right hand on the throne of David in heaven now. Christ is on it, but not reigning as the Davidic king (Saucy, 73).

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Question: When Peter was preaching, did Peter add to the meaning of the original passages? Was that his purpose? Did the location of the Davidic throne take on new understanding in Acts 2 that day or did those passages in 2 Sam. 7 take on additional meaning? Can we equate Psalm 110 and the ascension and session of Christ with the earthly throne of David in 2 Sam. 7?

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The OT texts do not teach this.

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Throne of David

Where is it? Ps. 132:13,17

What will the conditions be like when Christ rules from it? Isa. 9:7

How do you get to it? Jer. 17:25

When will this be? Jer 23:5-6

Who is associated with this throne? Jer. 33:18, 21

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You can only believe this if you are willing to say that Peter is adding meaning to the original 2 Sam. 7 text. But Peter’s purpose was not to add meaning to the original passage.

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But to get this, they teach that Peter, by divine intent, has changed the meaning of the earthly Davidic throne to also include a heavenly throne. They know it never meant that back then, but that Peter’s preaching added meaning to the text.

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Authorial intent anyone?

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God never said Davidic heavenly throne. Acts 2:29ff doesn’t teach that Christ is now seated on David’s throne in heaven. But to sit on that throne eventually is why God raised him from the dead. That’s Peter’s main point. Because a dead Messiah can’t sit on a throne, the resurrection was required.

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Verse 34-35 teach that the Son will sit at the Father’s right hand until, until the Father makes the Son’s enemies a footstool for His feet. When the enemies are made a footstool, then the Son no longer sits on the Father’s right hand because He returns to earth to establish His kingdom where He will reign on David’s throne.

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Christ is presently waiting to return to earth. See Acts 3:21; Matt. 25:31; John 18:36 (but now)

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And where do we draw the line in limiting the changing of OT promises? You could do that with a whole bunch of passages.

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This is clearly fulfilling PD’s desire to come closer to CT. But, like CT, the interpretations are not testable nor verifiable. They are at the whim of the interpreter. Nowhere are we forced to draw this conclusion of the heavenly/earthly throne of Jesus.

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And you can’t conclude that Jesus is presently on David’s throne in heaven unless you are willing to employ their “complementary hermeneutic.”

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  1. Israel and the Church

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Israel and the Church in Normative Dispensationalism

As we have gone over previously, reading the explanation in the new covenant revelation informs us that the emphasis is on a distinction between the two covenants and Israel and the church.

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The church does not replace Israel and the promises made to Israel are not fulfilled in the church. The new covenant is made with the House of Israel and Judah and includes Gentiles. ND believes there is a distinction between Israel and the church and that God has a distinct program for each. These distinctions remain out into eternity, although they are together for eternity. CD teaches that Israel and the church were distinct for all eternity, with Israel on earth and the church in heaven. ND drops that and says though they are distinct for all eternity, they are together.

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Lewis Chafer (CD) says, “The dispensationalist believes that throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives involved which is Judaism; while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people and heavenly objectives involved, which is Christianity.”

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Bock and Blaising say, “The new dispensationalists of the 1950s and 1960s, however, were uncomfortable with the notion of eternally separate heavenly and earthly destinies. They believed that after the Millennium, all the redeemed would be together for eternity, although they were not agreed as to where this would be. Some placed them all in “heaven”; others grouped them together on “the new earth.” Consequently, the distinguishing terminology of heavenly and earthly people is scarcely found in their writings. The doctrine of the two peoples was now to be understood precisely as Israel and the church, a distinction that Ryrie insisted must be eternally maintained, even if both were ultimately heavenly or ultimately (new) earthly people.[27]

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(Me=1 new man, including Jew and Gentile; 1 olive tree, Ro. 11)

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Israel and the Church in Covenant Theology

Covenant Theology looks at Israel as the church in the Old Testament. This system of theology sees continuity between Israel and the church in that they are both part of the one people of God.. .. Covenant Theology views the people of God in the Old Testament being widened in the New Covenant era to include Gentiles as well. It also sees the future for Israel that is predicted in the Old Testament as being fulfilled in the church today.

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Then there is the view of NCT.. .. Israel was not the church in the Old Testament.. ..[28]

NCT does not view Old Covenant Israel as the church. They make a distinction between Old Covenant Israel and the church.[29]

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But for CT…

In an article entitled “The Church and Israel in the Old Testament” from Ligonier’s website (RC Sproul’s ministry) by Rev. Dr. Iain Duguid (PhD, Cambridge), “Significantly, the Hebrew word used here [Gen. 28:3] for “community” is qāhāl, which the Greek translation of the Old Testament often renders as ekklēsia, “church.” [30]

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I guess it’s also significant that the “church” is found at the Ephesian riot! Acts 19:32, 40-41.

Acts 19:32 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.

Acts 19:40–41 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

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[GING] evkklhsi,a

evkklhsi,a, aj, h`—1. Assembly regularly convened for political purposes Ac 19:39; meeting generally 19:32, 40.—2. Congregation, assembly of the Israelites Ac 7:38; Hb 2:12.—3. the Christian church or congregation: as a church meeting 1 Cor 11:18; 14:4f; 3 J 6; as a group of Christians living in one place Mt 18:17; Ac 5:11; Ro 16:1, 5; 1 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:22; 1 Th 1:1; Phlm 2; as the church universal, to which all believers belong Mt 16:18; Ac 9:31; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 1:22; 3:10. Church of God or Christ 1 Cor 10:32; 1 Th 2:14; Ro 16:16. [ecclesiastical] [pg 60]

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This webpage references Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:37-38 37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ 38 This is he who was in the church in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,

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“Dispensationalists typically define the “Church” as a unique body, founded on Pentecost (a Jewish Feast day), completely separate from the nation of Israel. Yet, in Stephen’s defense before the Sanhedrin, he referred to Israel after the exodus as ‘the Church in the wilderness.’ “Why would Stephen violate the alleged dispensational parameters by referring to Israel as “the Church?’”[31]

Answer?

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Just using the word doesn’t equate it with the institution.

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The Case for the Church Replacing Israel

The New Testament evidence used to support the replacement view can be categorized in the following way:

(1) a passage that shows God has rejected Israel (Matt. 21:43)

(2) verses that are said to apply the terms “Israel” and “Jew” to the church (Gal. 6:16; Rom. 2:28–29; 9:6)

(3) passages that apply language used of Old Testament Israel to the church (1 Pet. 2:9; Phil. 3:3)

(4) verses that refer to members of the church as “sons of Abraham” or “seed of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7, 28–29)

(5) a passage that shows equality between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:11–15, 19); and

(6) a passage that applies the New Covenant to the church (Heb. 8:8–13).[32]

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The author of Hebrews twice uses Jeremiah 31:31–34, though he does not equate his readers, the church, with Jeremiah’s readers, Israel. In citing Jeremiah 31:33 in 10:16, the author of Hebrews makes an important word change. He refers to new covenant recipients “the house of Israel” and uses the word “them” to refer to “the house of Israel” (see 10:16). The author to the Hebrews agrees that his readers benefit from the forgiveness as promised in the NC in Jeremiah, but he does not equate Israel/Judah with the NC church. “Them” describes the original recipients of Israel and Judah, “This is the covenant that I will make with them,” the nation of Israel. He did not say “you,” the readers of the letter to the Hebrews. If the author wanted his readers to understand that God made this covenant with his readers, he would have said “you” in 10:16. The author clearly wanted to make a distinction between Israel and the church. Therefore, the church is distinct from Israel.

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But what of the church? Is the church in the NC?

The NC is made with the house of Israel/Judah and the mystery that is the church (Eph. 3:1-10; Col. 1:25-27) participates in this NC (Heb. 9:11-15). You have Gentiles and Jews being saved and giving miraculous evidence of it in Acts (e.g., Acts 10 Cornelius and Peter’s vision). Jesus spoke constantly of ministering to Gentiles. Gentiles have been grafted in, Ro. 11 and the church shares in promises to Abraham (Ga. 3:29) because we are not strangers to the covenants (Eph. 2:19). That the covenant is made with Israel Judah and that the church shares in benefits of the NC shows that Israel and the church are distinct, not that the church replaces Israel.

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Let’s also wrestle with…

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Galatians 6:16

This is the primary passage used to support the argument that the church has replaced Israel.

Hans K. LaRondelle has stated, “Paul’s benediction in Galatians 6:16 becomes, then, the chief witness in the New Testament in declaring that the universal church of Christ is the Israel of God, the seed of Abraham, the heir to Israel’s covenant promises.”[33]

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If we can debunk this argument, then the rest of the passage will fall into place.

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Galatians 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

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The argument is that Paul calls Jew and Gentile members of the church the “Israel of God.” The key is to understand the “and” in the phrase “and upon the Israel of God” as an explanation, that is, like “even.”

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As many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, even upon the Israel of God. This equates the “them,” that is those who walk according to Paul’s rule with the Israel of God.

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The NIV follows this. NIV Galatians 6:16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

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Thus, Paul identifies the church as the true Israel.

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However, how sound is this?

The word and can mean that, but it is rare.

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The vast majority of the time it is clearly referring to “and.” Secondly, this word can be translated “also.” And the third and much less frequent use of this word, it can mean “even.”

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And if you were to study this word, it would be unlikely that you would find any other occurrence in Paul’s writings that mean “even.” So it is at best doubtful and more likely it is forced upon the text. Hermeneutical procedure demands that one should use the primary use of the term unless the context demands otherwise. However, CT folks go ahead and opt for the rarer meaning because it fits with their theology.

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Also, if “Israel” here refers to both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ, it would be a unique reference. Nowhere else in the NT would Israel mean this. It most likely refers to Jewish Christians (cf. Ro. 2:29).

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Israel and the Church in New Covenant Theology

NCT retains the “typological” interpretation of CT. The typological hermeneutic holds that the OT/NT connection lies in the type/antitypes [e.g., Hannegraf: Joshau→Jesus; David→Jesus]. This also applies to Israel→church. Land promises or physical blessings promised to Israel typologically point to spiritual blessings for the church.

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Lehrer writes

“Then there is the view of NCT, which understands Israel to be an unbelieving type or picture of the true people of God, the church. According to NCT, Israel never was a believing people as a whole. Israel always had a tiny remnant of true believers in her midst. Israel was not the church in the Old Testament, but they did function as a type or picture of the church—the true people of God.”[34]

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NCT views Israel as largely unbelieving, but nevertheless a picture of the church.

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This is the same issue with CT. Just because NT applies OT passages and may not use them exactly in agreement with that OT passage’s exact intent doesn’t mean that the NT passage that quotes that OT passage will not be fulfilled according to the original meaning/intent of that OT passage.

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Read Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30. Jesus affirms the restoration of the 12 tribes of Israel.

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Read Acts 1:6. The apostles expect a restoration of national Israel, which Jesus doesn’t correct.

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Read Ro. 11:26, “All Israel shall be saved” and Paul proves the point how? By pointing to OT texts! Paul says these OT passages apply to Israel’s future restoration. And since he quotes those OT passages after the church began, the church cannot be the fulfillment of Israel and Israel is now superseded.

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Point: Since the NT predicts the salvation/restoration of Israel, Israel was not a type of the church that has been superseded.

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God made eternal promises to ethic Israel and He will make good on them. NCT like CT must explain how God will not fulfill His promises as He literally gave them. Jer. 31:35-37 explains Israel will continue as God’s people as a nation. Simply asserting that Israel is now superseded by the church doesn’t explain anything, just asserts it and denies God’s word.

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Now, concerning the identify of Israel in the OT, NCT (contra CT) doesn’t believe that Israel was the church in the OT, but as previously stated, an unbelieving picture of the people of God and that Israel will never have a unique identity/purpose/mission as God’s people.

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However, Jer. 31:35-37; Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30; Acts 1:6; and Romans 11:25-27. Interestingly, referring to Jer. 31:35-37, KTC says that it reflects the “permanence of the NC” [p. 492] and they seem to decline to offer a detailed explanation.[35]

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Israel and the Church in Progressive Dispensationalism

Progressive dispensationalism believes that the church actualizes the fulfillment of Israel’s covenants and promises. The church begins the fulfillment of future promises, called “inaugurated eschatology.” “The church is not a parenthesis within God’s program for Israel.” [Waltke]

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Many passages that ND relegate to being fulfilled only in the future are believed to have been fulfilled in the church age.

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They do not believe in separate programs for Israel and the church.

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Robert Saucy says,

The historical plan of God, therefore, is one unified plan. Contrary to traditional dispensationalism, it does not entail separate programs for the church and Israel that are somehow ultimately unified only in the display of God’s glory or in eternity. The present age is not a historical parenthesis unrelated to the history that precedes and follows it; rather, it is an integrated phase in the development of the mediatorial kingdom. It is the beginning of the fulfillment of the eschatological promises. Thus the church today has its place and function in the same mediatorial messianic kingdom program that Israel was called to serve.[36]

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http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/41/41-3/41-3-pp383-398-JETS.pdf

p. 390

“[PD argues] that the NT indicates a complement to the OT promise, with

more fulfillment also to come within the ethnic structures the OT had already

indicated. This means that in both views the Church can exist as a distinct

institution in the plan of God and yet can share in promises originally

given to Israel, because God brings them into the promise through his plan

involving Christ the seed of Abraham, who also was the promised vehicle

through whom the world would be blessed (Galatians 3–4).” No problems with the church participating in the promises of Abraham, given Gen. 12.

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  1. For example, Bruce K. Waltke, “A Canonical Process Approach to the Psalms,” in Tradition and Testament, ed. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg (Chicago: Moody, 1981), 7. He agrees that “the text’s intention became deeper and clearer as the parameters of the canon were expanded” and that “older texts in the canon underwent a correlative progressive perception of meaning as they became part of a growing canonical literature.” Pulled from Robert L. Thomas, “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament” in Master’s Seminary Journal TMSJ 13:1 (Spring 2002). He himself uses this same terminology when he answers with an affirmative to his question, “Is it Right to Read the New Testament into the Old?,” Christianity Today (September 2, 1983):77.

  2. VlachMichael, NCT Compared with Covenatalism; SwansonDennis, Introduction To New Covenant Theology

  3. Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies (p. 73). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  4. Ibid., 2-3.

  5. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, pp. 183, 186.

  6. We know it’s years, see Dan. 9:2. Also, note other versions.

  7. Which occurs after the first set of 7, equaling a total of 69 sets of seven years.

  8. Where did get 444 BC from, lunar or solar calendar?

  9. Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1942), 38.

  10. Vern S. Poythress, Understanding Dispensationalists (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 105–6.

  11. O.T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, p. 18.

  12. Reisinger, John. New Covenant Theology and Prophecy (p. 69). New Covenant Media. Kindle Edition.

  13. Ibid, 78.

  14. Ibid, 81-82.

  15. Lehrer, NCT, p. 227

  16. VlachMichaelNCTComparedwithCovenatalism, p. 213.

  17. Barrick William, NCT and the OT Covenants. TMSJ, Fall 2007.

  18. Lehrer, 170.

  19. Lehrer, 174.

  20. SwansonDennisIntroductionToNewCovenantTheology, 13. Note that the New Covenant was revealed in the OT but filled out in the new. What is the church’s relationship to the New Covenant? When the New Covenant mediator came, He said He would include Gentiles. The covenant is with the Israel and Judah and the Gentiles are grafted in.

  21. VlachMichaelNCTComparedwithCovenatalism, 14.

  22. Craig Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, “Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: Assessment and Dialogue,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), pp. 392–93.

  23. Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 51.

  24. Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, 69-70.

  25. Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 177

  26. Ibid., 182

  27. Blaising, Craig A.; Blaising, Craig A.; Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition (Kindle Locations 328-334). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

  28. Lehrer, New Covenant Theology 66.

  29. Ibid., 147.

  30. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-church-and-israel-in-the-old-testament/ retrieved 12/7/2013.

  31. http://www.pfrs.org/pd/10.html

  32. http://www.galaxie.com/article/ctj04-11-01

  33. Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1983), pp. 108–111. Pulled from http://www.galaxie.com/article/ctj04-11-01#G2000A0158

  34. Lehrer, pg. 66.

  35. VlachMichaelNCTComparedwithCovenatalism page 214

  36. Saucy, Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, p. 28

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