Comparing Dispensational And Covenant Theology

Comparing Dispensational And Covenant Theology

Examination of the presupp of disp and cov j z

An Examination of The Presuppositions Of Covenant and Dispensational Theology By: Jon Zens

Chapter 1.The Importance of Presuppositions

The Importance of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone).

A General Examination Of The Presuppositions of Dispensationalism

A Biblical Evaluation of the Presuppositions of Dispensationalism

Specific Interaction with Dr.Ryries

A General Examination of the Presuppositions of Covenant Theology

General Interaction with Heinrich Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics - Set Out And Illustrated From The Sources Specific Interaction with Herman Witsius' Some Tension Points in Covenant Theology

A Positive Textual Presentation Of The Relationship Of The Old And New

Concluding Remarks

Thus, in principle, our beliefs and actions must be

"If we accept something as a point of doctrine, or as a religious practice, we must have some direct precept of revelation or some direct precedent in the Scriptures for it'' (Don Fortner, ''Who Should Be Baptized?,'' Baptist Church BulletinHowever, as basic as this may sound, covenant theologians tend to reject what they call the ''untenable assumption'' that "only doctrines and practices explicitly stated in Scripture can be regarded as true or reasserted in the New; but rather the acceptance of everything in the Old not abrogated by the N.T.teaching'' (Armed with this hermeneutical approach, covenant thlack N.T.warrant.

''That the N.T.

fails to give a specific injunction about tithing would no more do away with it than the New Testament's failure to mention children's relationship to thWestminster Theological Journalvenant Giving, BRR, Vol.8, #2, pp.33-44)."Covenant rticular hermeneutical sttand the Mosaic covenant.For example, of God'' (Douglas H.Shantz, ''Baptists and Covenant Theology," )d hermeneutical stance opens the door for the sufficiency of "implicit" evidence instead of ''explicit" evidence from Brimless , and J.G.Vos's

in BRR, Vol.9, #1, pp.32- It is the conclusion of this author that while there are elements of truth in h fail to do justice to Biblical dainteract with both systems in order to move toward a arrive at an ''airtight'' system which has all the answers.

But our goal must be that we would see Christ exalted in the Scriptures, and that we would with humility receive what these sacred oracles say to us about Him, the One in Whom all the promises of God are ''Yes" and ''Amen.''


Within a century from when John Nelson Darby started the idea of God's two separate purposes in history (1827).It had arisen to a place of common acceptance among the Bible-believing movement in America, which then centered in Fundamentalism.

There is an intense continuity of thought among dispensationalists.

It is

difficult to ascertain the guiding presuppositions of this system.Dr.Charles Ryrie has pointedly faced the question."What is the

of dispensationalism?" His answer has three parts.

1.''A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct ...a man who fails to distinguish Israel and the Church will inevitably not hold to dispensational distinctions.''

2.Dispensationalists employ "a consistently literal principle of interpretation.'' This principle "is at the 3.Dispensationalists assert that God's purposes center in His glory, rather than in salvation'' ()By examining these three pillars we will be able to understand the essence of dispensationalism, and prior contemplation upon the church.

When he read Isaiah 32 he saw a tension between the earthly Old Testament description and his heavenly position in Christ.Hence he concluded that there was ''an obvious Contemporary dispensationalists argue that the prophecies concerning Christ's birth, death and resurrection were literally fulfilled, and that therefore what they see as promises to Israel must be literally fulfilled.

This reasoning, of course, is based on the presupposition of their Israel Church distinction.If the church and Israel ultimately have the same hope in Christ, then the question must be faced.''Does the Bible teach a destiny for Israel apart from the church?" This in turn would have serious implications for the Further, the question arises whether the ''historical-grammatical'' approach to the Old Testament (as conceived of by dispensationalists) was indeed used by Christ and His apostles.

To impose a method that is not in harmony with infallible instructors is surely a dubious course.J.Dwight Pentecost submits that there is no question but that ''the literalism of the Jewish interpreters was identical with present day grammatical-historical interpretation'' (Things To Come, p.19).It would appear to me that this form of literalism present The dispensationalists contend that other methods of interpretation are guilty of ''imposing the New Testament on the Old'' (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, p.187).However, this offense arises solely because the central presupposition of this system has ruled out the possibility that the promises to the fathers have already been confirmed by Christ (Rom.


Israel's destiny must be kept separate from that of the church.I will seek to show that dispensationalists are guilty of taking the Old Testament out of the

For example they assert that the Day of Pentecost was the ''beginning of a new thing in human history, the Church'' (Scofield Bible, on that day Peter said "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.'' But dispensationalists must get around the strength of such assertions in the New Testament: ''the Church, corporately, is not in the vision of the Old Testament prophet [Joel]" (, p.711: also compare Heb
comparing dispensational and covenant theology
.2:12Further, it must be questioned whether dispensationalists are indeed "consistently literal'' in their interpretatio
Ince its inception, dispensationalism has offered a distinctive con-eschatology have been significantly affected by dispensationalisms em-Some have argued that dispensationalism does relate to the doc-trine of salvation and particularly to the scriptural teaching of sanctifi-In order to support this thesis we will provide a survey of the discus-purview includes sanctification issues.Finally, we will seek to provideIn order to support our thesis, we must provide an overview of thewritings of those who do see an organic connection between dispensa-tionalism and sanctification.These scholars include both dispensation-alists and nondispensationalists.We do recognize there are also manydispensationalists and nondispensationalists who do not make aDr.Pratt is Associate Pastor of Eden Baptist Church in Savage, MN, and servesas an adjunct professor of New Testament at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in96Detroit Baptist Seminary Journalhere is intentionally limited to those dispensationalists and nondispen-sanctification calling it dispensational sanctification.We will surveyparticular model of sanctification they are identifying as dispensa-dispensational scholars of the twentieth century.When asked to con-Zondervans Counter-he merely assumes it.He equates his Augustinian-dispensational per-doctrine of sanctification, is John Witmer.

Like Walvoord he sees hisHe describes this theory by pointingNelson Darby and Lewis Sperry Chafer.One of Gerstners methodo-John F.

Walvoord, The Augustinian-Dispensational Perspective, in Ibid., pp.22324.John A.

Witmer, A Review of John H.Gerstner, A Primer on DispensationalismWrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensa-Ibid., p.243.Dispensational Sanctification97regarding various aspects of theology.

Because of this methodologicalerror, Gerstner assumes a connection between dispensationalism and aparticular model of sanctification, but he never demonstrates it.Whatby dispensationalism (as will be seen below), eschatology and ecclesiol-and suggests that their view of sanctification (Chafers and Ryries inIt is apparent in the development of his argument that Cren-shaw believes that Ryrie and Chafers view of sanctification is inherentrejection of the present rule of Christ by means of the law; this rejec-tion then leads to the idea of rejecting the Lordship of Christ in salva-of Ryrie and Chafers sanctification teaching.sanctification.In fact, Charles Ryrie has chosen to label his own viewRichard L.

Mayhue, Who is Wrong? A Review of John Gerstners Wrongly Di-3 [Spring 1992]: 85), pro-vides this helpful critique along with many others.Curtis I.Crenshaw and Grover E.

Gunn III, Ibid., He That Is Spiritual, rev.ed.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967),and Charles C.Ryrie, Contrasting Views on Sanctification, in ed.

Donald K.Campbell (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), pp.189200.Ibid., p.

82.Ibid., pp.8384.98Detroit Baptist Seminary Journalonly because of what it says about its origin but also because of what itdoes not say about its connection.Ryrie does not label his view asComing from one who has authored the book con-Dispensa-issue of definition to see whether or not the connection made by Wal-voord, Witmer, Gerstner and Crenshaw can be sustained.lated to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives involved,people and heavenly objectives involved, which is Christianity.We will provide more information on each of the sanctification models below.criticized dispensationalism through the years mirror Ryries perspective.We did findsome significant scholars, particularly Walvoord and Gerstner, who link dispensation-for the present paper mention no connection at all.One will notice that Ryries discus-rather than in the books he has written about dispensationalism (see note 10).Charles C.Ryrie, should also mention Ryries later work: 1986): 149, and Craig A.

Blaising, Developing Dispensationalism Part 2 (of 2 parts):Dispensational Sanctification99distinctives that he calls the : 1) a distinction between na-tional Israel and the church; 2) a hermeneutical method of literal in-John MacArthur, Jr.defines dispensationalism as a system of bib-lical interpretation that sees a distinction between Gods program forcentral issue in dispensationalism is eschatology; he also suggests thatdispensationalism has many implications for ecclesiology.Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock describe dispensationalism as adivine-human dispensations reflecting different purposes in the divineplan.This last point results in an emphasis on unique features inGods kingdom program has been generally identified as a dispensa-This succinct statement from Herb Bateman provides his assess-Finally, John Feinberg presents six core items that are distinctiveJohn MacArthur, Jr., Ibid., p.

222.Craig A.Blaising and Darrell L.Bock, Dispensationalism, Israel and theed.

Craig A.

Blaising and Darrell L.Bock (Grand Rapids: Zon-The Interface Be-Three Central Is-100Detroit Baptist Seminary Journalseeks to properly understand the progress of revelation, typology, andthe NT reinterpretation of the OT; 3) the necessity of double fulfill-6) a stress on the multi-faceted aspects of Gods workings in history.of definitional attempts made by some significant dispensational schol-Dallas-trained professors (Ryrie, Blaising, grads (MacArthur Not counting Chafer (deceased) and Ryrie (retired), this group repre-MacArthur (Masters Seminary), Feinberg (Trinity Evangelical DivinitySchool), Bateman (Grace Seminary), and Saucy (Talbot Seminary).In observing these various definitional attempts, we are struck bytheir similarity and agreement, particularly with regard to the distinc-tion between Israel and the church.

Charles Ryries statement couldIsrael and the church] is probably the most basic theological test ofwhether or not a person is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedlythe most practical and conclusive.2
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