Why Should One Leave Dispensationalism?

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  • Why Should One Leave Dispensationalism?

    Joe Vusich


    I graduated from The Master's Seminary, one of the leading Dispensationalist seminaries of our day. It's a fine school, I received a good education there, and I love John MacArthur and the other professors. But as I continued to study theology and the Scriptures after graduating (I was still a Dispensationalist for four years after finishing my studies), I began to see some big problems with the overall system, which left me concluding that Dispensationalism is based on a biblically and theologically unsound method reading of the Bible. I left Dispensationalism behind, and here are some of the more significant reasons why I did:

    1. In the way it develops and systematizes its eschatology, Dispensationalism often a) utilizes a wooden and arbitrarily-applied literalism; b) does not adhere to the Reformed hermeneutic of the analogy of faith; and c) often misses how all the Bible points to Christ (promise and fulfillment). Because of these significant hermeneutical errors, Dispensationalism gets bogged down with an obscure, disjointed apprehension of redemptive history, and a faulty understanding of how OT prophecy is fulfilled in Christ (e.g., teaching that there will be bloody animal sacrifices in a future millennium; concern about "unfulfilled land promises;" general lack of Christological focus that leaves Dispensationalists baffled with verses like Matt. 2:15).

    2. Dispensationalism artificially organizes redemptive history around dispensations instead of the biblical covenants, which is how the Bible does things.

    3. Dispensationalism denies (at least selectively) that the shadows, types, and figures of the Old Testament must be interpreted in the greater light of the New Testament. At times this is flipped on its head, and (according to Dispensationalists) the NT is to be interpreted in light of the OT.

    4. Dispensationalism teaches that the Church and Israel are separate and distinct entities, rather than the Church being the global expansion of Israel and of the Abrahamic Covenant (1 Pet. 2:9, compared with Exod. 19:6; Rom. 11:16-18; Eph. 2:12-13; Gal. 3:7-8, etc.). Ironically, Dispensationalism advocates a form of Replacement theology, even as it wrongly accuses Covenant theology of promoting the same.

    5. Dispensationalism denies that Christ's coming is a single event. According to Dispensationalist teachers, Christ will descend from Heaven to earth, gathers His people in the Rapture, then return to Heaven, then descend back to Earth again in judgment seven years later.

    6. Dispensationalism denies that the resurrection of the dead is a single event. Dispensationalist teachers separate the general resurrection of all the dead into two or three separate events, contra John 5:28-29 and Daniel 12:1-2, and contra the universal creeds of the church.

    7. Dispensationalism teaches that there is a time coming after Christ's return when sinners will still be present on the Earth. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that the Final Judgment of all men will happen when Christ appears in glory (Acts 17:31; Jude 1:14-15, 2 Thess. 1:6-7, etc.).

  • #2
    I couldn't agree more with all the above points, and so I myself have left Dispensationalism (long before reading that article, though). Sound doctrine isn't just an academic exercise. Bad doctrine has bad consequences, and Dispensationalism has had monstrously bad consequences for the lives of Christians around the world. Here's one example that the doctrine of dispensationalism facilitated.
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    • #3
      The OP has its facts about dispensationalism wrong. It's no wonder people don't like it: They don't know what it is. Dispensationalism is more than just about time and times; it is about stewardship. In fact, the two words are synonymous. I wrote about the falsehoods af what dispensationalism is already. For example, we go to Christ IN THE AIR in the rapture, whereas, the second coming is where Christ comes TO THE EARTH with His saints (where did they come from if not for the rapture?) This ought to be titled "Why One Should Read the Bible and Let the Spirit Do the Teaching." Know what you criticize before criticizing it.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Cornelius View Post
        I couldn't agree more with all the above points, and so I myself have left Dispensationalism (long before reading that article, though). Sound doctrine isn't just an academic exercise. Bad doctrine has bad consequences, and Dispensationalism has had monstrously bad consequences for the lives of Christians around the world. Here's one example that the doctrine of dispensationalism facilitated.
        Just for FYI, Joe Vusich is a Minister at Emmanuel Reformed Church, and a Facebook friend. I asked for his permission to post the above, like always, he graciously obliged. In the same debate which this thread is titled, "why should one leave dispensationalism" someone posted, because, "Dispensationalists say: We have no idea who owns the cattle on the 1,001st hill." Thought that was rather hilarious, but it will make a person cross eyed once dispensationalists addresses 2 Peter 3:8-13


        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        The OP has its facts about dispensationalism wrong. It's no wonder people don't like it: They don't know what it is.
        Strat, did you address the bulk of the OP or the various symptoms listed as resulting from the dispensational hermeneutic? I realize you submitted your personal interpretation as a rebuttal to point #5 in defense of dispensationalism, but did not address the errors that led you to that interpretation.

        If you would like to debate or have a dialogue with Joe, then I could request him to come here. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if he has time, I can always invite him.

        God bless,
        William
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
          For example, we go to Christ IN THE AIR in the rapture, whereas, the second coming is where Christ comes TO THE EARTH
          The passages used to support the Rapture equate the event with the coming of the Lord. Even if it's a halfway and invisible coming, it's still the Lord's coming, which would be the second coming. And, then there's coming #3 after the Tribulation, according to Dispensationalism.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by William View Post
            someone posted, because, "Dispensationalists say: We have no idea who owns the cattle on the 1,001st hill." Thought that was rather hilarious, but it will make a person cross eyed once dispensationalists addresses 2 Peter 3:8-13
            That is a good joke, I'm going to quickly share it with my pastor. I'd share it with more people, but more people probably wouldn't get it.

            As for, 2 Peter 3:8-13, I guess after the Lord's coming, there won't be anyone left to face the 7 year Tribulation.
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            • #7
              What is literally in the Bible is not my personal interpretation. Second, 2 Peter 3:8-13 is talking about time as opposed to eternity, showing us how time to the Lord is irrelevant to Him since He is in eternity. The 1000 year reign of Christ doesn't read the same, does not address the same topic. Therefore, you cannot assume that just because the one deliberately is a figurative expression does not mean it applies to all times 1000 years is mentioned. That would be just plain ridiculous.

              Dispensation is not synonymous with premillennial. They are two different topics. Oikonomia is the Greek for dispensation and in Luke 12:42, Luke 16:1-8, Titus 1:7, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, and 1 Peter 4:10 it is translated "steward", "stewards", and "stewardship".

              Premillennial refers to the timeline of end times events leading up to and including the 1000-year reign of Christ, the timeline I believe in from the Bible that I think you already know. Until this matter is understood by you and those who agree with you, it is pointless to argue about something misdefined in the first place.

              Now, are you against dispensation or premillennialism? They are not the same thing, as I just showed. The apparent attitude of taking my belief as a joke is not a good idea. If you and Joe have read 1 Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24, Daniel 12, and the Revelation, you have my belief. Of course I believe in the whole Bible, but am referring specifically to this topic.
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              • #8
                G'day Strat,

                Point #4: Both Protestants and Catholic theologians outside of the dispensational position have said that the church includes both OT believers and NT believers in one church or one body of Christ (please refrain from using a guilty by association argument). Do you agree or not? Please address whether you believe God has two distinct separate purposes for Israel and the Church (progressive dispensational)? Also note, even in the non dispensational view, a person may hold that there will be a future large-scale conversion of the Jewish people, yet that this conversion will only result in Jewish believers becoming part of the one true church of God - they will be "grafted back into their own olive tree" - Romans 11:24

                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                What is literally in the Bible is not my personal interpretation. Second, 2 Peter 3:8-13 is talking about time as opposed to eternity, showing us how time to the Lord is irrelevant to Him since He is in eternity. The 1000 year reign of Christ doesn't read the same, does not address the same topic.
                Rather at times it attests to a lack of comprehension, and suggests no interpretation but only parroting what Scripture says. Second, as to 2 Peter 3:8-13 it asserts that God is sovereign over time and His perspective on time differs radically from ours. Verses 10 and 12 - "The day of the Lord", and "The day of God" - Which topic is not addressed?

                8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]

                11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                Therefore, you cannot assume that just because the one deliberately is a figurative expression does not mean it applies to all times 1000 years is mentioned. That would be just plain ridiculous.
                Can you cite support for a literal thousand years based upon Biblical Prophecy? Please provide reason for rejecting the use of symbolism as addressed in Revelation 1:1 or even address the parallel from 2 Peter 3:8-13 to Psalm 90:4: "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night." Do you reject the allusion being made from 2 Peter (I'm curious)?

                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                Dispensation is not synonymous with premillennial. They are two different topics. Oikonomia is the Greek for dispensation and in Luke 12:42, Luke 16:1-8, Titus 1:7, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, and 1 Peter 4:10 it is translated "steward", "stewards", and "stewardship". Premillennial refers to the timeline of end times events leading up to and including the 1000-year reign of Christ, the timeline I believe in from the Bible that I think you already know. Until this matter is understood by you and those who agree with you, it is pointless to argue about something misdefined in the first place.
                Dispensation is defined as “a stewardship, an administration, oversight, or management of others’ property…. This involves responsibility, accountability, and faithfulness on the part of the steward.”However, Dispensationalism as a system in present-day discussions is most commonly associated with and stems from premillennialism because of the emphasis of premillenarians on normal, literal, grammatical interpretation, which points to a clear distinction between Israel and the church.

                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                Now, are you against dispensation or premillennialism? They are not the same thing, as I just showed. The apparent attitude of taking my belief as a joke is not a good idea.
                Again, you have addressed the OP as wrong and ignored the system of interpretation that Dispensationalism applies to Scripture. Lets not address attitudes, okay? Try to address the Scriptures in the OP. Lets address the Dispensational hermeneutic. I went and tried to find the most "neutral definition" I could find in comparison to Covenant Theology:

                Dispensational Hermeneutic:

                The notion of progressive revelation has lead Dispensationalist to interpret the Bible, to look at biblical history and interpret where you are in the Bible, very differently than the way Covenant theologians look at the Bible. The tendency in Covenant Theology is to look for uniformity; there is one Covenant of Grace that spans virtually the entire Bible. So there is a tendency to see this uniformity; there is one people of God. In Dispensationalism the mindset is very different. It is instead to notice discontinuity, differences in how God relates to people depending on the revelation that is given at that particular time. It is much more attuned to the discontinuities between various dispensations and to respect those, to be careful not to interpret something in this dispensation as you are reading it from a different time period. So you are not being respectful of what it means here. Charles Ryrie no doubt overstated it in his book, Dispensationalism Today, but he gave this threefold sine qua non (a Latin phrase meaning without which there is none) of Dispensationalism or the essential markings of Dispensationalism. One of them is a literal hermeneutic. He didn’t mean you interpret poetry literally. John kicked the bucket means that John died; that is the way you are supposed to interpret it. He didn’t mean literal in the sense of ignoring metaphorical poetic meanings or terms. What he meant by that is, when reading the Bible, understand what an author intends to say within the historical context of when he is writing it, so that you don’t read back into it things from the future or read forward of things in the past. You take care to read it within its own dispensation. That is what he meant by literal hermeneutic; to understand what the author meant then and there as he spoke at that time.
                After reading the above does your method of interpretation align according to your use of Dispensations or the various forms of the word used some 20 times throughout Scripture? Will you address the use of Covenants... a word used around 310 times throughout Scripture? What leads you to rejecting Covenant Theology and the Amil position? What leads you to Dispensationalism? By all means, please, address dispensationalism's hermeneutic and apply its method towards your interpretation of Scripture and demonstrate HOW you came to your interpretation? Please do not say, "I get my interpretation from the Holy Spirit, as if none of you do".

                Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                If you and Joe have read 1 Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24, Daniel 12, and the Revelation, you have my belief. Of course I believe in the whole Bible, but am referring specifically to this topic.
                Is there any question about that? Are you suggesting that none of us believe in the whole Bible? Are we not addressing this topic?

                God bless,
                William
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  Please do not say, "I get my interpretation from the Holy Spirit, as if none of you do".
                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  Are you suggesting that none of us believe in the whole Bible?
                  You said it--I didn't.

                  In fact, you say a lot of things I don't say and don't seem to grasp what I do say. I give up! Believe what you want. You've really changed since you left that Calvary Church. I almost was going to check out a Presby Church, but not if it has this kind of effect on people. And for someone who claims to have been weak in eschatology, you sure have gotten bogged down in dogma about it in a very short time. I can't stand it anymore.
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                  • #10
                    I can't stand it anymore.
                    Are you leaving the forum Strat?

                    God bless,
                    William
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                    • #11
                      I at least need to take a hiatus for a spell. Too much friction has built up and I need to let things cool down, maybe change topics. There are things we agree on, but never discuss. Even with Cornelius there are some agreements, but I keep getting slammed with anti-dipsensationalism and against my essential eschatology beliefs. To be honest, the site is more a home for Presbyterians than Protestants in general, or non-denominationals, IMO.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Hi Strat,

                        We should keep that in mind when discussing, debating, or engaging in dialogue with others. Including those from the Catholic, Arminian or Universalist camps. No matter how wrong we believe someone to be, we can learn a lesson from this. Obviously, you my friend have embraced your doctrine to the point where we can't discuss, debate, or dialogue about it because when facing opposition it becomes too personal. I ask that you refrain from participating in Eschatology until you have a change of heart or can divorce your emotion from the topics. I am well aware that on several occasions you have almost left because of these discussions.

                        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                        You've really changed since you left that Calvary Church.
                        Yes, I followed a calling from out of Calvary Chapel. When my then Pastor said he would not even debate the "unbliblical" charges against Arminianism, or address the questions I had concerning Calvinist soteriology. How am I to interpret that action? Am I not worth discussing doctrine to if my doctrine is bad? Am I not editable as a member of the congregation to the elders? I attended Calvary Chapel for Six years, and I attended 3x a week, to this day I still have no idea concerning Calvary Chapel's form of church government, and I had no awareness of any doctrine at that time (over 2 years ago) of my departure. Calvary Chapel's mentality is that over emphasis on doctrine should be avoided as to not cause a division in the body of Christ. My response today to that statement, "No kidding, doctrine does cause division especially essential soteriology".

                        After your response, I have reexamined myself and my post. And I must admit after observing various debates with Arminians, Universalist, and Catholics, I attempted to head you off by writing what you quoted. For that I am sorry, as for my intent, at that time I was trying to avoid a repetitious and lacking defense of doctrine when confronted. I had the feeling it may draw out a negative response from you, and for ignoring that....

                        I apologize brother. I hope you will receive my apology as sincere, and reconsider participating in doctrinal debate and discussion that may disturb or provoke you, but it shouldn't be to the point of emotional or rather unhealthy responses. I am sorry that it may of caused you to be distraught. You're a long time internet friend, and someone I have grown in faith with. I'd hate to lose a cherished relationship to what I consider our first major disagreement on non-essential or secondary doctrine.

                        God bless,
                        William
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                        • #13
                          Of course you are forgiven. We all make mistakes or say things that don't come out like we mean them. This is especially so on the Internet or any written page. I do need to take some restoration time, however.
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                          • #14
                            William, I was staunchly dispensationlist for over 30 years before I realized what you came to realize. When I investigated the underpinnings of its foundational claims I found there was absolutely nothing that required that the scriptures used by dispensationalists mandates the understanding dispensationalists give them.

                            This took a good month of honestly looking at all sides of the topic and evaluating every claim. It was like peeling back the many layers of an onion until I finally got to the most basic, fundamental, foundational claims. As as the legs of stool fell apart, so did dispensationalism

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                              The OP has its facts about dispensationalism wrong. It's no wonder people don't like it: They don't know what it is. Dispensationalism is more than just about time and times; it is about stewardship. In fact, the two words are synonymous. I wrote about the falsehoods af what dispensationalism is already. For example, we go to Christ IN THE AIR in the rapture, whereas, the second coming is where Christ comes TO THE EARTH with His saints (where did they come from if not for the rapture?) This ought to be titled "Why One Should Read the Bible and Let the Spirit Do the Teaching." Know what you criticize before criticizing it.

                              If you would like to discuss this further, I can share what I learned that dismantled this belief system.

                              For instance, we who go to meet Christ in the air do not prevent - ie do not go before - those who have died are are resurrected first.

                              The catching up in the air and the 2nd Coming are one and the same event - the dead are resurrected, the living are caught up in the air - the clouds Jesus returns on, when every eye shall see Him.

                              There is no secret coming of Jesus.


                              Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                              What is literally in the Bible is not my personal interpretation. Second, 2 Peter 3:8-13 is talking about time as opposed to eternity, showing us how time to the Lord is irrelevant to Him since He is in eternity. The 1000 year reign of Christ doesn't read the same, does not address the same topic. Therefore, you cannot assume that just because the one deliberately is a figurative expression does not mean it applies to all times 1000 years is mentioned. That would be just plain ridiculous.

                              Dispensation is not synonymous with premillennial. They are two different topics. Oikonomia is the Greek for dispensation and in Luke 12:42, Luke 16:1-8, Titus 1:7, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, and 1 Peter 4:10 it is translated "steward", "stewards", and "stewardship".

                              Premillennial refers to the timeline of end times events leading up to and including the 1000-year reign of Christ, the timeline I believe in from the Bible that I think you already know. Until this matter is understood by you and those who agree with you, it is pointless to argue about something misdefined in the first place.

                              Now, are you against dispensation or premillennialism? They are not the same thing, as I just showed. The apparent attitude of taking my belief as a joke is not a good idea. If you and Joe have read 1 Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24, Daniel 12, and the Revelation, you have my belief. Of course I believe in the whole Bible, but am referring specifically to this topic.
                              Dispensationalism is a form of premillenialism which is a form of millenialism or also called millenarianism.

                              Dispensationalism teaches Christ will return before the millenial period to set up a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. That is premillenialism. And that is what dispensationalism teaches. To divorce them from each other is to cut dispensationalism off from one of its most basic, fundamental teachings.

                              Darby is the father of dispensationalism and taught as a cornerstone tenent of dispensationalism Chirst will return to usher in the millenial period of peace - this is indeed premillenialism.

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