Monday, February 25, 2008

Against Dispensationalism

Our friend Martin Downes of Againist Heresies has interviewed Kim Riddlebarger. They concentrate on eschatological issues and discuss the baneful effects of dispensationalism: part 1 and part 2. Here's a snippet to whet your appetites,
MD: I take it that you would consider a dispensational hermeneutic to be an incorrect way to read and understand Scripture. How serious an error would you consider dispensationalism to be?
KR: Yes, I consider dispensationalism to be a very problematic way to read Scripture. While dispensationalism is a hermeneutic (despite protests to the contrary), one can be a dispensationlist and a five-point Calvinist. John Nelson Darby and John MacArthur come to mind. But dispensationalism’s two interpretive presuppositions (that God has distinct redemptive purposes for Gentiles and national Israel, and that we must interpret biblical prophecy “literally”) are highly problematic. God’s redemptive purpose is to save his elect–both Jew and Gentile. This is why there is one gospel, and this is why Paul can tell us that Christ’s purpose (under the new covenant) is to make Jew and Gentile one (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22). This flies directly in the face of the dispensational hermeneutic which sees one gospel, but distinct redemptive purposes for Jew and Gentile.
And while dispensationalists rail against those who “spiritualize” the Bible, the amillennarian insists upon interpreting Old Testament prophecy as Jesus and the apostles do. The tough thing for dispensationalists to face is that Jesus and the apostles do the very thing dispensationalists claim should not be done. This means that at the end of the day, it is dispensationalists who don’t take the Bible “literally” since they insist that Old Testament passages which speak about the role of Israel, tell us in advance what the New Testament writers actually mean. This, of course, is highly problematic. The New Testament writers must be allowed to interpret the Old Testament, especially in light of the coming of Christ.
All of that is to say, dispensationalism certainly does not rise to the level of heresy. But it really does obscure clear passages, and it does not allow us to understand the course of redemptive history as Jesus and the apostles understand it. Ironically, it was the zealots and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who were most angry with Jesus when he told them that the kingdom promises of the Old Testament were realized in him, and not in a national kingdom, or a restored nation of Israel.


Nauvoo Pastor said...

I always appreciate the views of those who disagree with the dispensational hermeneutic. I am a dispensationalist myself. Yet I do not follow the "historic" line that is mentioned in the article. I had already determined that I would not read this book but now, I will have to get this book and read it because my interest has been peeked.

Looney said...

I had always understood that dispensationalists teach one gospel, but that God hasn't finished his purpose with Israel and will use them in a sense analogous to how he used Babylon and Persia. Whether this is correct or not is another issue, but I have never heard anyone mention two redemptive methods (i.e. two gospels). This would be a direct contradiction to the book of Galatians and definitely pushing towards heresy.

Grosey's Messages said...

I am dispensational, but I don't see two redemptive purposes.... I think often those tilting at dispensationalists look for the worst case scenarios to make their case.

kai said...

wonderful book by brother Kim Riddlebarger.My church is dispenstional but i am not,love my pastor all the same.I thank that we need to have honest dialogue from all sides even if i disagree with dispensationalists. I love people like john piper,Al Mohler and Mark Dever and they are Historic Premil.
And man like Ligon Duncan and CJ Maheney and james white who i love as well are amillennarian who is right who is wrong? im still looking. but i am Leaning to amill.
thank you for this post my brother!