"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Dispensational Theology and the Destruction of Iran

John Hagee is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and a prominent televangelist and supporter of the nation of Israel. Katyusha rockets recently hit Cornerstone Church's Absorption Center in Kiryat Yam, Israel. John Hagee ministries is a strong advocate of the state of Israel, and his most recent book on the Middle East conflict, Jerusalem Countdown, reached number two in Publisher Weekly's monthly sales list and is approaching one million copies sold.

John Hagee is a dispensationalist. In his book he states that the real enemy is Iran, and that the Arab nations, including Iran, will align themselves together to destroy Israel, and that a peace agreement will be brokered by the U.N. --- led by the Anti-Christ --- and Israel will be saved from destruction, but for just a short period. According to Hagee, the peace will be broken when Russia, China and the Arab nations will come together again in an alliance against Israel, and will seek to destroy her after just a little over three years of peace. It is then, according to Hagee's book, that Jesus Christ return to set up His kingdom on earth.

I am not a dispensationalist, but I marvel at how many Christians believe it to be the orthodox understanding of the end times. There are many very real problems with dispensationalism, not the least of which is the teaching of the Bible that the Old Covenant with Israel has been abolished. But rather than go into great detail on eshcatology, I am simply pointing out a couple of concerns I have of regarding the end product of dispensationalism.

(1). Dispensationalism does not allow for the possibility that Iran will be defeated by Israel and/or the United States militarily, and that the people of Iran will be allowed to establish a pro-democracy government where they can worship and live in freedom.

(2). Dispensationalism does not allow for the possiblity that the world might endure a veritable World War III and come out the other side with greater peace, greater freedom, and greater productivity than ever before.

(3). Dispensationalism sees only one end to any world wide conflict, and that is the personal, visible, physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

(4). Dispensationalism runs the risk of bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ into disrepute, for if fifty years from now Islamic fanaticism is defeated, and all Islamic states moderate in their view of the world and Israel, then the question will be asked, again, what about the return of Christ?

(5). The gospel contains within it a personal eschatalogy for every human being. Jesus Christ will come for every person on the day of his death, just as He has since the beginning of time, and every person apart from faith in Christ will give an account to Him for how he has lived his life. This is the coming that really counts and it could happen any day for any of us.

My grandfather, Fred Cherry, was good friends with Arthur W. Pink. On the wall in my office I have a letter from my grandfather to Mr. Pink requesting a copy of his book "The Redeemer's Return." The letter is dated April, 1947, one year before Israel even became a state. Mr. Pink responds to my granfather's request a month later by saying his book, "The Redeemer's Return" is now out of print, and he closes the letter by saying this:

"My 'Redeemer's Return' was written 30 year ago, in the days of my spiritual infancy, when I received without question the teaching of older men. For 40 years I have studied prophecy and today it is my firm conviction that most of what has been written is guesswork!

I fully agree with the spiritually minded C.H. Spurgeon, who said: 'I scarcely consider myself qualified to explain any part of the Book of Revelation, and none of the expositions I have ever seen entice me to attempt this task, for they are mostly occupied with a refutation of all the interpretations that have gone before, and each one seems to be very successful indeed in proving that all the rest knows nothing at all about the matter.'

If you ask then, 'why then did God give us the Revelation?' I answer, 'to stain the pride of man, to expose our ignorance until such time as the whole of it is fulfilled.

My advise is, leave Prophecy alone, and concentrate on the practical portions of the Word!

You asked me which parts of my "Redeemer Returns" I no longer agree with? Answer, "The Signs of His Return,' particularly -- He has not come yet! and may not, for anything any man on earth knows, for thousands of years! May the Lord enable us to put first things first (Matthew 6:33) -- the Revelation is at the END of the Bible!"

Yours by Divine Mercy, A.W. Pink


Sage counsel indeed by a former dispensationalist who died with the more important matters on his mind.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

61 comments:

irreverend fox said...

no wonder there are rumors that you are in league with the anti-christ Wade!

For crying out loud!

scott m said...

I'm not a dispensationalist myself, though I don't have a firmly developed eschatology of any sort. I suppose I'm generally amillenial. Mostly I confess that Christ will return, those in him will come with him in the resurrection of the dead, and he will somehow make all things new or renew his fallen creation.

Of course, I also have a problem with people who want to assert how prophecy applies to the Middle East and apparently don't even know that Iran is not an Arab nation.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Wade,

I join you in cautioning our Christian brothers not to get too caught up in the "this headline matches this prophecy" method of Bible interpretation.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Roger Simpson said...

I was interested in dispensationalism for a while and I got a half dozen books such as
"Progressive Dispensationalism" by Boch and Blasing and "The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism" by Saucy. However, I am only an armchair eschatolgist so I couldn't completely grasp them -- let alone "buy in" to them.

I for a while there was quite a lot of interest in Dispensationalism at Dallas Seminary. Many of my teachers were Dallas grads.

I hope that dispensationalism does not become accepted as a normative doctrine for Southern Baptists. For one thing, there are so many variants of dispensationalism that we would need a half dozen different mini-SBC's to accomodate them all.

Talk about "narrowing the parameters" -- if dispensationalism became a major issue for "cooperation" in the SBC we would be having fights from here until doom's day.

It is interesting that you mention Fred Cherry. I was saved under his preaching at a revival meeting he held at First Southern Baptist Chruch in Downey Calif in 1960.

I had never heard of Pink until a few weeks ago when I started attending a class on "Covenants". We are using Pink's book on the Covenants as the textbook.

Alan Cross said...

I am not a dispensationalist and I agree that that method of interpretation has serious problems. However, I don't think that dispensationalism teaches any of the things you talked about. If Iran is defeated or if everything changes on the world stage, dispensational prophecy teachers like Hagee will just readjust their teaching to whatever the next signs are. That's the problem. It's a chameleon theology. It changes to suit the situation.

Having said that, Jesus IS coming back. At some point, a living generation will be around when He does return. We should be expectant, but not hang our hope on any current event or let those events dictate foreign policy. We should always strive for peace and to obey the direct commands of scripture, instead of hoping that current events are setting the stage for the Lord's return based on some interpretation of prophecy. That position is so dangerous that it causes Christians to do nothing and settle into fatalism concerning a whole region of the world. When we slide into fatalism we do not try and bring the Kingdom. People die and souls go to hell. Funny, many dispensationalist accuse Calvinists of being fatalistic, but they do the same thing when it comes to allowing their actions to be dictated by their interpretation of Bible prophecy! Ironic, eh?

I pray that we will vigilantly reach out to the Muslim world with the love of Christ instead of hoping that they die and go to hell.

Tim Sweatman said...

Like Scott M., I'm not a dispensationalist and I don't have a solid position on how the events surrounding Christ's return will play out. I tend to lean toward the historic premillennial view, but I'm not willing to claim that this is THE right view. The difficulty comes from trying to discern which statements of prophecy are symbolic and which are literal. Not living in a late 1st/early 2nd century context makes this very difficult. As I told a search committee Thursday night, I can't tell anyone for certain how the events of the Second Coming will happen, but what I CAN say with certainty is that whenever and however it happens we had better be doing the work of the Kingdom when Jesus returns.

Nick said...

Pastor Burleson,

Thank you for this post!

One thing that I think needs mention is that much of I have taken in of dispensationalism neglects Matt. 24:14.

There are still between 6000-8000 seperate, distinct, people groups that must have a gospel witness before the end CAN come, much less that it will.

Thank you for putting into words much of what I've been thinking.

-nick

GeneMBridges said...

Let's not forget that Haggee's version is somewhat unique. He seems to affirm that Jews do not require conversion into the New Covenant at this time. He seems to be drawing on classical dispensationalism, not progressive dispensationalism, which is by far more moderating on these issues.

That said, I tend toward historic premillenialism or amillenialism.
One of dispensationalism's greatest weaknesses is its theology of the Temple. Its an utter shambles. Moreover, it ignores the unity of the covenants and, in its classic form, is positively antinomian, stipulating that everything up to Paul, because its in another dispensation is no longer applicable. It seems to me that Hagee is taking that hermeneutic and applying everything from the Old Covenant to Israel assuming that,for them, it is still effective to the present day. Well, yes, in that they have apostatized from the covenant, but applies to all Jews, not just the political nation, ergo, a consistent Jew (one who is a Jew by birth) will convert to Christianity and will enter the rest for Israel, the New Covenant. That's the point of the invitations of Hebrews.

I'd suggest reading G.K. Beale's The Temple and the Mission of the Church. He teaches NT at Wheaton I believe, and eschatology is one of his pet subjects. His theology of the Temple is superb. He emphasizes the unity of the covenants, but his linking theology is the Temple. The history of the church is that of building the Temple. That's our job. If you can follow that theme in Scripture, you can work out a consistent eschatology that does not destroy the unity of Scripture in the process.

Tom Bryant said...

I'm pre-trib and pre-mill, but some of what you say does apply to the Hagee/LaHaye form of dispenationalists, but not all follow this pattern.

I can remember going to israel right after Jack Van impe talked about huge flocks of vultures that were being gathered at the Valley of Megiddo to eat the dead that would soon be there. When I got there, i didn't see any vultures. We see more vultures along any road in florida cleaning up the road kill.

I learned that like Jeff said the "headline matches this prophecy" means of determing the meaning of prophecy is pretty whacked.

Rob Ayers said...

Wade

Come on! What happened to the "diversity within unity" approach? Can those who approach an innerant word not be called ignorant?

I often find that many who dislike the LaHaye/Hagee/Lindsey dispensational position on the latter days (Lindsey is a name that I did not hear, but certainly is an co-protagonist for many) have a preterist position (hand in hand with replacement theology). Some on this thread can speak about their lack of interest in the latter days, or have formed an eschatology. In my view, this is just setting us up for a rabid anti-semitism, and a clear ignorance of the clear scriptural evidence of the "latter days" seperated from the Augustinian over-spiritualization of prophetic texts.

I preached this morning Ezekial 37-38. "A people, called from all nations, living in security on the hills of Israel" coming back to a land that was nothing but desert, but now is blooming. The State of Israel is nothing but a miracle of God, for they (the Jewish people) are the "apple of his eye" (Zechariah 1:8). Tell me something. Has there been one day within the last thirty years that Israel was not in the news? How about within the last three years? How about in the last six months? Coincidence? Tell me.

The history of the world is in the hands of a soverign God - only He knows the future - yet He has given us clues in His Word. He has certainly told us the future of the Jewish people in Romans 11:25-36.

"For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?"

Romans 11:34-45 quoting Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Job.

Rob Ayers

Bro. Robin said...

Bro. Wade

Thank you for your thoughts. I would hope that most dispensationalists would not take news paper and interpret the Bible with it. I don't try to do it, even though I am a dispensationalist. Jesus could come tomorrow or next year or 1000 years from now. I am willing to work with others (Amil or post-mil) as long as we agree that Christ is returning.

By the way, I also believe in the doctrines of Grace which puts me in no one's camp: Dispensational or Reformed.

I do fear the sensationalism of people like Hagee. I also dread his take on the health and wealth gospel.

I do share your fears even though we may not share the same view point on the end times. I do feel that I am a lone ranger on this topic with your blog. If this ever becomes a point of division in the SBC and non-dispensationalists are asked to leave, I will leave with you. This should not divide us.

Bro. Nick

Most Dispensationalists will declare that Matthew 24:14 will occur during the seven year tribulation after the rapture. I don't want to debate, I just want to let you know where Dispensationalists believe that the fulfillment of that verse will happen.

I hope all my bretheren who are not dispensationalists will not equate people like me to the sensationalism of Hagee.

God Bless

Bro Robin

Wade Burleson said...

Robin,

Good post. Thank you for the reminder that not all dispensationalists are of the Hagee stripe.

Also, I appreciate my dispensationalist friends and their desire to be faithful to their understanding of the sacred text. We should all be able to fellowship with each regardless of our eschatology.

Again, thanks for your post.

Ellis said...

These guys are always coming out of the woodwork during this kind of crisis. As a teenager I read Lindsey's books. The cold-war was in full swing and everyone was afraid of the Soviet Union -- Now it's Iran.

Do these guys ever say they're sorry after their predictions don't come true? Do they ever write a book about being WRONG? Have they read Deuteronomy 18:22? One strike and you're a false prophet who has spoken "presumptously." In other words, it was not God speaking through you ... it was your pride and arrogance. Do they ever make financial compensation to all those who wasted their time reading the book? I doubt it.

I guess we'll find out in a few years when all this passes and nothing in the book comes to pass.

thanks for letting me vent ...

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, You might ask yourself, does it really matter?.. Titus 3:9 tells us to avoid foolish disputes..etc .. Matt 24: 36+37 tells us no one, other than God, knows when the end will be...But, some things are crystal clear.. 1 Cor 1:23 preach Christ crucified , and Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the gospel....

irreverend fox said...

I e-mailed Cornerstone church about 8 or 9 years ago and asked if brother Hagee believe that Jews did not need to be converted.

They wrote me back and could not stress in any clearer language that John Hagee DOES believe that Jews must convert and confess Christ. They if a jew is not born again that they will go to hell.

Let's make sure we have our facts straight before tossing out things that are just not true.

John Hagee believes that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that Jews must come by the cross just like anybody else.

Maybe Wade can help us understand how unfair spreading half truths or repeating false reports is.

Scotte Hodel said...

Thank you for this post. Your list of concerns about dispensationalism is well put, whether it is applicable to all dispensationalists or not. The simplicity of seeing the rapture just around the corner has appeal, but it also carries with it severe dangers that you put so well.

My personal favorite commentary on Revelation is in "The Beginner's Bible," a watercolor illustrated children's book. Perhaps it ought to be required reading in seminary.

tim rogers said...

Brother Wade,

While I am not Dispensationalist in Theology, I still believe the Rapture can take place at any time.

Isn't that what Paul believed? He believed it to such an extent and preached it so much the Thessalonians were written a letter encouraging them to continue on in their service. Their loved ones that died before them would be there when Jesus returned.

I did not read in your that you believed we should not preach about the rapture, but it appears the comments on your post are heading in that direction.


Also, are any of Pinks writings in print today?

Blessings,
Tim

TruthOfActs said...

Good post, Wade,
I believe of all the names mentioned (Dispensationalists, progressive dispensationalism, historic premillennialism, historic millennialism, pre-trib, pre-mill, Amil, and post-mil) the most important one has been left out which describes me. That is ‘pan-mil’ which most have heard before—it’s all going to pan out in the end.

Revelation has a lot of good points as long as you don’t get drunk on it—seeking to be a know-it-all. The early church of Antioch did not add Revelation to their Bible for 800 years.

Rex Ray

Rob Ayers said...

Just a note: I am not a holder of "dual covenant" theology. Jews, like everyone else, must hold to the New Covenant - the blood of Jesus alone can atone for sin, and only by calling upon His name can one be saved. Being a devout Jew means little to God who devoutly desires that men appropriate the salvation of the cross alone for salvation.

I am only a middlin dispensationalist (as I am only a middlin Calvinist - I guess that makes me a "moderate" - but don't tell anybody). My purpose in being involved in this post is to note the inherant dangers in holding to a preterist or a replacement theology position (one of which is anti-semitism) - (and how I can deal with others who don't, but it seems everyone who has a smaterin of seminary education comes out of the woodwork to condemn with severity the despensationalist position).

For the record, John Hagee is not a holder of "dual covenant" theology - which he has made crystal clear in every sermon I have heard him preach.

Just a question here - how come "most people in the pews" hold to a pre-trib, pre-mill position? Ignorance? Lack of 'proper' teaching? And is this majority view reflected in our seminaries among scholars and teachers? And if not, is this "taxation without representation" that was often the battle cry of the conversative resurgence?

Rob

Roger Simpson said...

Tim:

Here is a website with some of Pink's writings:

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink

As far as I know these writings are all in the public domain.

-----------------------------

Rob:

I have to dig out my "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology" to see what you are talking about when you refer to "Replacement Theology". I have to find out what is being replaced by what.

I am just a layman. However, I took some classes in seminary and I would say that at Western Seminary there is not a dogmatic position on any particular end-time scenario but most profs seem to hold to a pre-mill / pre-trib outlook.

LivingDust said...

Advice for Christians - stay away from Israel. Rough stuff is going to happen in Israel and the surrounding areas. I won't be going to Jerusalem until the Lord invites me to visit. No Holy Land tours for this guy. Nobody knows the hour of the Lord's return, not even the angels. We need only focus on our commission. I must admit its always interesting to listen to Brother Hagee and his passionate sermons about the future and end times. Great murals too!

Paul said...

Rob,

Saying that anti-semitism is an inherent danger in preterism is (I'm looking for a nice word here) crazy. At the very least it shows a lack of awareness of some of the great writings of post-millennialists and other preterists of the 19th Century and before which were anything but anti-semitic. I've got a little book in my library titled Hal Lindsay and the Restoration of the Jews which comes from a preterist perspective and is anything but anti-semitic. Saying that preterism is inherently anti-semitic is like saying that Dispensationalism is inherently anti-intellectual.

David L. Miller said...

I am kind of surprised, Wade. I thought if you blasted the theology of other believers, you would at least present an honest view of its beliefs.

Contrary to most of your bloggers, I am (mildly) dispensational. Your representations of dispensational belief are nonsense. None of those items bear any resemblance to what we believe.

I believe the premil/pretrib view of eschatology after many hours of study. I accept the fact that this is an area in which godly people can disagree.

However, two thing do annoy me. First, as I have stated, I find it annoying to have my viewpoint misrepresented. That's what I love about Grudem's systematic theology. He accurately presents the views of those he disagrees with.

Second, I am annoyed by the smug superiority of those who dismiss this view with ridicule, not biblical argument. (I am refering to some of the comments, not to your original post).

John Hagee seems to be a decent man, but he is hardly the spokesman for modern dispensationalism.

Frankly, I am a little surprised at the spirit of this post.

Roger Simpson said...

In an attempt to find out what "replacement theology" is I looked in scads of books (in the index) I have but it is not mentioned -- at least by that name.

However, doing a GOOGLE search led to "The Theology Program" at
BIBLE.ORG. There are a series of streaming video lectures there that lay out various eschatologies such as covenant, classic dispensational, and progressive dispensational. It seems to me to be an irenic treatment of all the various views. I think the guys giving these lectures are Dallas Seminary Profs.

At least I NOW know that replacement theology posits that the "church" has "replaced" "ethnic Judiasm". I had heard of this view before but never heard it described as "replacement theology"

---------------
David Miller:

You are right! Most of the posts so far have only been a "skeleton characerization" of a "small space" in the "breath and sweep" of disposational thought.

Understanding the exact way that the various covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New) are fulfulled by Israel and/or the Church is a little over my head.

To say that "Dispensational Theology" is necessarily "Chameleon Theology" is a little over the top. Guys implementing Chameleon theology are on the fringe and do a disservice to the fine scholorship that is going on in the area of dispensational studies.

Most of the negative things being said about dispensationalism on this thread are against popular "self styled" dispensationalists. This can't be generalized to dispensationalism in general.

Let me again recommend:

(1) Dispensationalism Today (Ryrie)

(2) Progressive Despensationalism (Blaising and Bock)

(3)Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (Blaising and Bock editors)

(4) The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism (Saucy)

Before you guys trash dispensationalism take stock of a more balanced exposition.

As for myself I don't know where to come down on an eschatological view. I am like Rex Rey: somehow everything will turn out OK.

Coty Pinckney said...

I'd like to respond to a different line in Wade's original post than his comments on Hagee:
"Leave Prophecy alone, and concentrate on the practical portions of the Word!"
Brothers, our calling is to teach the whole counsel of the Word of God. It is not our job to decide what is practical and what is not. For Paul tells us all of it is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Last year I spent 6 months preaching through Revelation, to the great benefit of my congregation and myself. Pray about doing the same yourself, my brother. Here are a few paragraphs from my introductory sermon to whet your appetite:

"Today, there is lots of interest in Revelation but relatively few sermons are preached on it. Why?

One reason: There are major disagreements about the proper method of interpretation of this book.

“So what’s unusual about that?” you may ask. “There are huge differences in our understanding of, say, Matthew 1, the story of Jesus’ birth. Some pastors believe Jesus was born of a virgin, others don’t. How is Revelation any different?”

Yes, pastors differ on their understanding of Matthew 1. But note that Matthew 1 is absolutely clear in saying that Jesus was born of Mary before she had sexual relations with a man. The only question is: Does the preacher believe what the Bible says? Pastors disagree here because some believe the Bible is inerrant and others don’t. Among those pastors who believe in biblical inerrancy, there is no disagreement about Jesus’ birth.

However, when we get to Revelation, two preachers who both believe that the Bible is the word of God can differ markedly in their understanding and interpretation.

How does this difference lead to the relative neglect of Revelation? Two main reasons: First, in many churches, the pastor knows that members of his congregation hold different opinions on the proper way to interpret this book. Thus, whatever he might say, whatever position he might take, he is likely to alienate some members of the congregation. That’s not pleasant. It’s easier to avoid the book.

Second, having studied different interpretations, many pastors are confused themselves. They don’t know what they would say. They don’t see how they can preach with authority on a book they do not fully understand. So they avoid it.

Am I confused about this book? I certainly don’t claim to understand all the pictures. And I imagine in a congregation this size we also have a range of opinions about the right way to interpret this book. It’s quite likely that over the course of the next six months of preaching through this book I’ll upset some of you. So I have the same qualms as many pastors. Why, then, did I choose to preach through Revelation?

Please turn to 2 Timothy 3:16. This is a key verse for Desiring God Church, explaining the central conviction that governs our teaching:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, fully equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Paul says that all Scripture – including Revelation – is breathed out or inspired by God. All Scripture is profitable. Thus, every book of the Bible is useful for equipping God’s people.

That’s our starting point. That’s the conviction that characterizes the preaching ministry of this church. Over time, we will cover all genres of biblical literature, and usually will alternate sermon series between Old and New Testaments. If God gives me the grace to live long enough, perhaps eventually we’ll preach through the entire Bible.

So all Scripture is profitable. But how will this particular book equip us?

Today I want to help you get a bird’s eye view of the book and its themes, in order to whet your appetite for what is ahead. I pray that you will come back in the weeks ahead to hear the details. I encourage you in the meantime to read Revelation on your own. Spend time interacting with the text. Let me particularly emphasize that last word: interact with the text itself. Praise God for commentaries and study Bibles, but Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” (Colossians 3:16), not the notes of a study Bible. Some of you might find the two study guides (first, second) of mine that are available online helpful in your private reading. In these guides, I try not to interpret the book, but to raise questions and refer you to other Scriptures that might help you to interact with the text.

This morning: we will address four questions:
· Who is Revelation from and to?
· What is the structure of Revelation?
· What are some guidelines for interpretation?
· What are the major themes of Revelation?

(End of sermon extract. You can see that sermon in its entirety here. The Scripture Index to my sermons, linking the entire Revelation series, is found here.)

Rob Ayers said...

Paul,

One only needs to look at history and see the complete and utter destruction that the preterist (hand in hand with "replacement" theology) has done in the past. The three main big persecutions of Jews during church history were:

The Spanish Inquisition
The Russian Pogroms
The German "Final Solution"

Each persecution had a "religious element" imbeded in each - behind each persecution was a form of preterism (with "replacement" theology) that "fueled the fire". The forced conversion into Catholicism versus torture or death found the Spanish Inquisition is an example IMHO how the "replacement" trend can run really out of hand. The Russian solution (with help from both the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as an Jew baiting work called "The Elders of Zion") fueled the great expulsion and resettlement of Jews from a swath of Russian territory. Of course Hitler felt affirmed in his Jew hatred by the works of Martin Luther (among many) who kept many of his historical teachings of the Catholic church which included Augustinian spiritualization of prophetic texts, and how the Jews were no longer a necessary piece in prophetic history.

You may not like my examples, or agree with them. But they are present, and have to be dealt with.

Paul, you may not believe your little swipe about how those who hold to a view of "dispensationalists" being "anti-intellectual." I am sorry, but through my experience of years of seminary, and in some posts on this thread this is exactly how some view it. In my view, this is just arrogance, and has nothing to do with Christian humility or maturity. I am more than willing to be wrong in the face of a soverign God.

Roger - the point is that while forms of "dispensationalism" is arguably the most prevalent belief (good or bad) among a majority of Southern Baptists, this view is rarely taught "positively" or at least in neutrality in SBC seminaries - which I find is a shame.

For the record, I don't read the paper to form my opinions on theology - and I think that all if not most of those who hold my view do not as well - this was another swipe that infereed "dispensationalism is anti-intellectual."

Rob

tim rogers said...

Brother Roger,

Thank you for the link to Pink's publications. I have already used it in my preparation for sermon study.

Blessings,
Tim

Jacob Jones said...

It also seem that the Dispensational scholars are often forgeting about "spiritual Israel" and focusing on "regular Israel".

Paul said...

Rob,

First things first: if you felt the "sting" of the association of dispensationalism with anit-intellectualism then you now know the sting others may feel when you associate preterism with anti-semitism. That's exactly why I used that as an example. You would be offended by the one. I would be offended by the other. You would claim that the association of dispensationalism with anti-intellectualism is a weak thread that has no basis in reality other than the fact that there may be people who are both anti-intellectual and dispensational, but without there being a cause and effect relationship between the two. I would claim that the association of preterism with anti-semitism is a weak thread that has no basis in reality other than the fact that there may be some who are anti-semitic and preterist, but withoug there being a cause and effect relationship between the two.

You go even further by making an attempt to associate preterism with people like Hitler, the Inquisitors and the Russian Revolution. That would be like me associating dispensationalism with Charles Manson, World War I and Idi Amin. The ties you make have more to do with what Hiler ate for breakfast than with his eschatological view, assuming he had some sort of developed Christian eschatology - an assumption that I can hardly believe could be demonstrated.

The charge that preterism is anti-semitic, in your words, "is just arrogance, and has nothing to do with Christian humility or maturity."

Please note that I have not charged dispensationalism with being anti-intellectual, though you have charged preterism with being anti-semitic. I have used anti-intellectualism as an example precisely because there are those who do feel that way and because I knew you would reject the assertion. Your charge, on the other hand, is very real and does considerably more damage because you have actually stated it as the way things really are.

Roger Simpson said...

Rob:

On a scale of one to ten I guess that whatever teaching either is or isn't going on about dispensationalism at the six SBC seminaries does not rise above "1" in importance. However, the fact that these schools don't seem to engage dispensationalism "seriously" or "responsibily" does leave a vacuum. If SBC pastors don't talk about the subject then the guys in the pews are going to be left to their own devices. The guy in the pew is likely to formulate an eschatological position based upon the "only one that is out there" --namely the Lindsay / Hagee variety. This has two "bad" results: either they are going to be turned off to the Bible's claims about the future due to the outlandish claims or they will be taken in by it and adopt that stuff out of default.

For many years, my wife and I attended a Conservative Baptist in America (CBA) church. Most of their pastors are trained at either Western Seminary (Portland) or Dallas. There schools both engage dispensationalism in an "informed" manner.

I can't speak about all SBC seminaries but when I used to live in California I would go up to Golden Gate once and a while. I don't recall that in their seminary bookstore that they had much (if any) stuff on dispensationalism.

I took a course at Daniel/Revelation at Western. I was about the only layman in there. I would say that dispensationalism got a even-handed treatment in that class.
My prof was Dr. Gary Tuck -- a Dallas grad.

Rob Ayers said...

Paul,

First an historical correction. The Russian pograms were circa between 1860 to 1900 or therabouts. The Russian revolution, while having many roots in this era, did not come into being until Lennon and Tolstoy, 1914-1920. Many intellectual Jews were vered into the Bolshevik camp because of the pograms. The sad fact was of course that the Communists were just as anti-semitic as the Czars were.

I also did not say Hitler held to preterist views. I said that he felt affirmed by the writings of Martin Luther who most plainly did. With the exception of Bonhoeffer and a very few notable clergymen, most of the established church in Germany (read here Lutheran) did little to oppose the roundup of the Jews, precisely because they held to a form of the view, while other evangelical Christians (notably the family of Tenboom of Holland who hid Jews and suffered for it - because of their personal beliefs in the part that the Jewish people played and in God's Word, and will continue to play in the future.)

It is not my fault that these historical examples have imbedded in them some churchmen who claimed preterist theology in some form or capacity. I will conceed that my connection is weak in respect to modern day protagonists of the position. I do not claim that you are anti-semitic, and if you recieved that from me, I desire your forgiveness. You will have to conceed however that the connection between the Inquistion, Pograms, and the Final Solution with preterism is a lot more stronger than Charles Manson and dispensationalism. It is not as preposterous as you wish to believe.

My only point was the one which the majority of this thread seems to want to speak to dispensationalists: Beware the weakness.

Rob

Baptist Bro said...

rob ayers said:

"I also did not say Hitler held to preterist views. I said that he felt affirmed by the writings of Martin Luther who most plainly did."

Luther was a Historicist when it came to eschatology, not a Preterist. In this he was in line with the other major reformers and the majority of Protestants until the late 19th century.

irreverend fox said...

does anybody have know of a website that is half way decent to read that explains, in some detail, historic premillennialism?

Wade, what system do feel best describes your eschatology?

Paul said...

Rob,

Let me agree with Baptist Bro's general point and take it one step further. Preterism is the predominant view throughout church history. It is a logical non-sequitur to suggest that every evil perpetrated thorought church history had the backing of a preterist view just because that was the view of the day. The predominant view of the Lord's Supper during the Spanish Inquisition was that of transsubstantiation. That doesn't mean that those who hold to transsubstantiation are inherently anti-semitic just because those who did hold to it were a part of the Inquisition. You still have not shown a cause and effect relationship. If you want to lay anti-semitism at the feet of preterists you're going to have to do a much better job of showing the connections than mere historical relationships. So far those prove nothing. You're going to have to show where preterists express anti-semitic ideas as a direct result of their eschatology to make your point logically valid.

For example, it is more faithful to say that Hitler did not find anything in Luther's eschatology that would have overtly prevented him pursuing his goals and aims toward the Jews than it is to say that he found support for his goals and aims there. For all we know German Lutherans may have supported Hitler because he was opposed to pornography and divorce, not because of a particular eschatological view.

Greg P said...

I agree with Coty. Prophecy is not just a topic to be relegated to secondary status behind seemingly-more-important matters.

In addition to being important simply because they are God's Word, you'll find that prophecy is particularly intertwined with holy living and how one ought to behave himself in light of future events, especially in the Thessalonian epistles. Not only that, it is a source of comfort (1 Thess 4:18), which can only be true in certain eschatological "systems".

Of course, I wouldn't put myself anywhere near Hagee generally, and don't know what his views are. But I believe pre-trib, pre-mill, and not because of any system but because of a plethora of Biblical teachings, especially what I learned from a recent study specifically of the eschatology of 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

That said, I don't see the current events in Israel as fulfilling any Biblical prophecy other than Israel's rejection of their God. People are all the time trying to match up what's going on with the "restored" state of Israel to what the Bible says. But we should know that when the Lord restores his people to their land, it will be an even greater miracle than we he brought them there from Egypt in the first place (Isaiah 11:11-16). We ought to be very careful about assigning what's going on now to specific prophecies, especially since Israel is still deathly hard towards the Lord.

Alan Cross said...

Correction of my previous comment in this thread: I said that dispensationalism was a chameleon theology that changed to suit the circumstances. That is not true. Dispensationalism stays the same and is a well thought out systematic theology. The strain of dispensationalist prophecy teachers that keep changing their predictions to suit current events is what I was referring to, not dispensationalism itself.

JewishHeart said...

Could you explain what you mean by the following statement: "There are many very real problems with dispensationalism, not the least of which is the teaching of the Bible that the Old Covenant with Israel has been abolished."

I am specifically asking about the last clause. Are you advocating a dual covenant perspective with the idea that Jewish people are "redeemed" through the Mosaic covenant? Or are you negating the fallacy of replacement theology?

There is no malice to my question(s). Just straight forward curious. Thanks.

Wade Burleson said...

Jewishheart and Irreverend,

I believe that in the New Covenant there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. All who come to faith in Christ are part of the "true Israel."

As far as my system of eschatology, I have none. Christ is coming for every single person, in His time, in His way, as He sees fit.

Rob Ayers said...

Paul,

It may and still may be a "predominant" view - that is totally irrelevant. The question is "Is it true to Scripture." Radical aestheticism and the exaltation of celibacy over marriage was a predominant view of the church at one time as well. The affirmation of this view filled the monstaries of Europe. Yet it was a view and interpretation of Scripture which was unsustainable to say the least. My conclusion from reading Scripture and comparing it to preterism is that the view is unscriptural and unsustainable - but I accept your view as a diversity that brothers can share about non-essentials. My fears remain however about it's historical connection to anti-semiticism or at least one of the many philosophical pillars used to affirm anti-semiticism when it breaks out - and no amount of straw men or denunciations you can produce will eliminate the problem. You will have to live with it.

It seems we live in a small world. You live in Sapulpa - I hail from Sand Springs, graduate of CPHS 1981. You co-blog with Timothy Jones - if he is the same Jones who Pastors Rolling Hills, then I know him too, for he pastored in my neck of the woods in Green Ridge.

Shalom,

Rob

Rob Westbrook said...

For those of you who have studied prophecy and the end times, what's your take on the Pre-Wrath Rapture, made popular by Robert Van Kampen? How does this view relate to dispensationalism?

Paul said...

Rob,

What straw men are you referring to? I have no problem with you or anyone else being a dispensationalist. I would say, much like you have, that having studied the Scriptures I find dispensationalism to be wholly unsustainable and unbiblical. Nevertheless, eschatology is a second-order pursuit over which I don't divide.

What you have stated, though, is that anti-semitism is inherent in preterism. You say that you did not mean to offend or call me anti-semitic, but you can't escape either with that kind of statement.

In the end, stating your point and proving it are two different things. You still haven't done the latter. Perhaps you could blog on it yourself. I'd be interested to see how you prove your assertion.

I actually missed our last Tulsa Emergent meeting, so I didn't get to meet Timothy Jones. I should be back next month.

Blessings!

Dr. Jim Roebuck said...

Wade,
In one of your responses you stated, "Christ is coming for every single person, in His time, in His way, as He sees fit".

My question is, doe you believe in the doctrine of universalism (the eventual salvation of ALL people)?

Just wondering.

Dr. Jim Roebuck

Roger Simpson said...

Irreverend Fox:

Go to www.bible.org. This is a website that has a lot of content that mostly (if not entirely) is maintained by Dallas Seminary grads. [I don't think it is officially related to Dallas Seminary]

On that site they have links to the "Theology Program" which is a series of streaming videos on various subjects.

One of the subjects is "Ecclesiology & Eschatology".

Go to session #3 which talks about various eschatology models such as:
classical dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism, covenant theology (and what they say is it's close relative "replacement theology"). They also discuss a new fusion -- something they call "Progressive Covenantalism".

I have found watching those videos very informative. They point out the various interpretive platforms that support each of the schemes.

In my opinion, this is the best overall description of the various end-time schemes. Their whole presentation is "friendly". They field questions from the class (the video were taped live in a classroom). The format is team teaching where two guys bring up various points as they compare and contrast the various positions.

I don't recall the guys names but I believe they are both profs at Dallas.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Jim,

Of course not. Why would there be hell if that were the case?

Christ is coming either in judgment for the lost, or eternal blessing for His people.

Wade

foxofbama said...

Wade: Now that you are having lunch with my friends Flick and Webb, you have no excuses not to pilgrim much further out from this nonsense. Fellow as articulate as you should wipe your feet of the bunk of Ergun Caner, and read my friend Charles Kimball's When Religion Becomes Evil until you have a working conversation with it.
Take a risk. Check the Mainstream Blog of Bruce Prescott; do lunch with with. Consider our mutual friend, the promising young scholar at Beirut Baptist seminary Martin Accad. Make a point to meet Accad if he comes to lecture near you.
I met him back in April in an event sponsored by Samford and The Alabama Baptist.
Like yourself, a presence, great charisma.
Hoping you will embrace Accad as part of your wider Baptist fellowship.
In meantime, no excuses; read my friend Randall Balmer's new book They Kingdom Come and "Where have all the Baptists Gone," the scathing chapter on the underbelly of the SBC we all abhor, the right wing connections of Pressler, Mohler, Floyd and Patterson.
Peace and Grace.

irreverend fox said...

Roger,

bible.org is one of my fav. resources. I have watched every single one of their streaming videos, consecutively.

They flew through the various views of eschatology, or at least they did not dive into it as deeply as I am wanting to go I guess.

Great resource and everybody here needs to check it out for sure...just on this issue they gave little more than an overview I believe.

Rick Thompson said...

1. D.T.S is dispensational in their doctrinal statement. For a fair view of historical premillenialism, read Eldon Ladd.

2. The demonizing of all non dispensational views by playing the "anti-semite" card wears me flat out. There is no way to have a reasonable discussion of escatology when people resort to such lame tactics.

3. I love Israel and I love the Jewish people, but make no mistake, most Christians living in the Middle East are Arab or western.

4. In my opinion, the most important words regarding eschatology are simply, "BE READY!".

5. The poignant words in Wade's post have been mostly ignored by the comments- and that is from both Pink and Spurgeon, two giant Baptist theologians warning us all of arrogance when it comes to the theology of last things.

johnMark said...

One thing I have always wondered about it why certain dispensationalists such as Hagee and if I remember rightly Falwell want to support Israel so much.

I had a short-lived debate a few years ago with a Messianic/dispensational believer. He drew his alleged support for modern day Israel mostly from Romans 11 and some surrounding passages. He could never show me though that what he was advocating in his support for Israel was God's commands towards Christians to act in such a manner. This is where my "why" question comes in.

Even if we granted the above dispensational position towards Israel this still does not tell believers to act in a certain way other than bringing the Gospel to them. We read about what God is doing and going to do rather than what our Christian duty is. It's as if some folks think they are "helping" God in restoring Israel.

We have plenty of examples in Scripture of Jewish evangelism. None of it looks like American Christianity's support for and partnering with Israel which seems void of the Gospel while concentrating on giving money and joining in feasts together. Atleast it seems the Gospel is very much secondary.

It is my understanding that Christians aren't allowed to publicly preach the Gospel in Israel. I may be wrong though and someone may have better insight here.

Wade, thanks for your blog.

Mark

Wade Burleson said...

As usual Rick,

Concise, logical, and well said.

Rob Ayers said...

Just a note:

The name calling on this thread did not start on the dispensational side. I seem to remember the words "dangerous" "uneducated" thus this quote: "...problems with people who want to assert how prophecy applies to the middle east and apparently don't even know that Iran is not an Arab nation" nonesense - Iran is Persian and they speak Farsi - do I pass the test?; "..so many variants of dispensationalism..." as if there are only a few variants of everything else; "don't get caught up in this 'headline' matches 'this' prophecy" as if dispensationalists take everything from the headlines; a "chameleon" theology" as if we have changed our stripes to match the headlines - as far as I can tell we have not changed our position in a long, long time; "positively antimonian" from the best word smith we have - I respect and love you Gene - I'm sorry I'm not on your side on this.
And of course the destruction of the stupid dispensationalists would not be complete without the summary and customary execution of Hagee, Lindsey, and LaHaye and others as if they are mass murderers - whearas the only thing they did was write a couple of popular books and through them acculturate thousands if not millions of people to the gospel message (albiet in a dispensationalist format that gets most everybodies ire around here it seems). And while Jack Van Impe gets some things wrong (and I will note that he is very very careful, often taking note that these are his best guesses and not some prophetic proclamation) his devotional life is second to none. How many reading this has the scripture memorized, and can stand in the pulpit reading verse after verse, chapter after chapter and book after book without looking down? Without even carrying the Bible into the pulpit? Who here spends six hours a day studying and memorizing scripture? Jack does. God bless him, he does a lot of things wrong - but his heart is as good as gold. How many of you are willing to look into his heart and then judge him?

I am the one who started the "anti-semitism" thread because I believe the preponderance of the evidence concerning certain forms of interpretation of prophetic texts FROM HISTORY reveals it to be so. Yet it was not my intent to call anyone here an anti-semite for how can I know? I certainly ask for your forgiveness. It was not my intent to bum everyone out. But it is time for everyone to look squarely in the mirror. Romans 2:1 - "Therefore You are inexcusable O man, whoever you who judge for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself: for you who judge practice the same thing." If you guys want to dish out the contrary opinions and criticism, then you better be prepared to recieve it back in kind. As it is I have enjoyed these discussions - but not the ugly stuff. I am willing to be wrong for what I said. Is anyone else?

Rob

Stephen said...

Wade:

Do you really think it's fair to discredit dispensationalism because of John Hagee? You're setting up a straw man and putting it along side Hagee.

Hagee is NUTS. What if I were to discredit the entire tongues movement based upon Hagee being a nut? Do you think that would be fair?

A movement should be judged by it's best supporters....not it's weakest link. Take your shots at Charles Ryrie....not a weak link like Hagee.

Stephen Brittain

martyduren said...

I'll give you $5 for that letter.

Roger Simpson said...

Rob:

I apologize for being too dogmatic. I admit I don't know much about eschatology that I would really "take to the bank".

Let's have this same discussion in a ten thousand years. By then it will probably more civil since (a) we will likely have more information on the outcome, (b) our sin nature will have been dealt with and we won't be involved in escalating levels of "theological one-upmanship".

Wade Burleson said...

Marty,

You huckster.

Wade Burleson said...

Stephen,

Good point.

Wade Burleson said...

Roger,

Great humility.

craig from Georgia said...

When politicians want to put someone down, one of their methods is to try and associate their opponent with some undesirable person or situation. It appeared that this blog was a put down of dispensationalists by associating them with Hagee which was quite disappointing because, even though I don’t agree with reformed theology I have enjoyed Paul’s blogs and the spirit he exudes through them. If you want to do an expose on John Hagee then fine, but don’t make him out to be the typical dispensationalist. If you want a better representation of sound dispensationalism then choose someone like the late Miles Stanford (http://withchrist.org/mjs/MJSnoframes.htm) or look at the site of Middletown Bible church (http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/index.html). If you believe the Bible to be the inspired, preserved, perfect Word of God and you believe it to be the final authority in all matters of faith (doctrine) and practice and your method of study is characterized by studying words and passages in their, comparing scripture with scripture then you will not have a problem with the dispensational study of Scripture. BTW, if WWIII comes and goes then my theology will be the same because it is dictated by the Bible and not current events. In my 25 years of being saved and having read behind various teachers I have come to the conclusion that the dispensational method is the most Biblical; not because I try to make the Bible fit my theology, but by letting the Bible dictate my theology. A lot of people say that, but they don’t really mean it. They study the Bible in light of their particular theological bent whether it be dispensational, reformed, charasmatic…etc. All of us learn much from reading behind others, but eventually (whether we are dispensational, reformed, charasmatic…etc) we have to set those teachers aside and get into the Bible for ourselves and as Paul says be Bereans and let the Bible tell us if these things are so.

craig from Georgia said...

CORRECTION: I meant to say "Wade" instead of "Paul" when I said "even though I don’t agree with reformed theology I have enjoyed Paul’s blogs". My apologies to Paul (whoever he is) :- )

Grosey's Messages said...

I thought you told me you were a post-mill, the same as Gill, Wade.

Baptist Bro said...

John Gill was premillennial.

Terry Hamblin said...

It seems to me that the great danger of dispensationalism is the lattitude it gives the modern nation of Israel. In equating modern Israel with the Israel of the Old Testament it gives them special privileges, and even (in some versions) allows them salvation without the need to repent and trust in Christ.

The old pre-milenial position espoused by Irenaeus expected the the Second coming to be accompanied by the evangelization of all nations, the conversion of Israel, the great apostasy and the great tribulation, the revelation of the man of sin, and the restoration of Israel to the Holy Land. According to Berkhof, this was not the commonest position in the early church. Amillenialism predominated since the only scriptural support for the pre-millenial position comes from Rev 20; 1-6, a highly symbolic passage in a highly symbolic book, which has been interpreted by theologians in many different ways. There is no warrant for the 1000 years in other passages on the second coming.

Present pre-millenialism usually derives from Darby, Kelly and Trotter and the Scofield Bible - Berkhof comments "one is lost in a bewildering maze of covenants and dispensations, without an Ariadne thread to give safe guidance"

It is as well to remember that there are Jews that have been found by the Holy Spirit and trusted the Lord, but most of them are not in Israel. The present nation of Israel mainly comprises those who have rejected the gospel.