The Friendly Duel

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Within the body of Christ there are doctrinal differences between good friends. In particular, covenant theologians differ from dispensationalists.  Thankfully, because of the merits of Christ on the cross, someday we’ll all be together with the Lord, and our hermeneutical and eschatological differences will be fully resolved.  Meanwhile, good brethren line up on one side or the other—and some men form a line in the middle. So, the ongoing doctrinal duel continues to exist.

I happen to be a dispensationalist because the dispensational hermeneutic seems to be the most reasonably consistent approach to biblical interpretation.  Two major points guide me to this position.

First, it seems to me that the method of interpreting prophecy should be no different than the method of interpreting non-prophetic portions of Scripture. Why should we change from a literal, historical approach to a non-literal/spiritualizing approach when we encounter certain prophetic passages? Using the Bible itself as our pattern, we can see that Old Testament prophecies about the first coming of Christ were fulfilled literally; so why should prophecies about Christ’s second coming not also be interpreted literally? What motivates my covenant brethren to switch interpretive horses in the middle of the stream? In my view, such an approach is not only inconsistent, it also opens the door to more serious misinterpretations and misapplications of Scripture.

Second, it also seems reasonable to me that God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David should convey the same meaning for us today as they did to those men in their day. Why do covenant theologians morph the meanings of God’s promises and thus force the Bible to say something different than what it originally said? Who gave the authorization to change the meanings of those promises? Seems to me, a promise is a promise. God said what He meant and He meant what He said. That’s why I believe that the Nation of Israel and the Church are two different entities, and that the literal, earthly, physical nation of Israel will occupy a major role in God’s plan for the future.

Of course, God’s nature never changes, and down through the ages the way of salvation has never changed; but it is clear to me that God’s method of running His Kingdom definitely changed at different times in history. God ordained different strokes for different folks.  (Even the covenant theologian believes this—he just has fewer dispensations to talk about.)  So, while I do not believe that God’s people had a New Year’s Eve party at the end of each dispensation (regardless of how we count those dispensations), I do assert that God’s particular methods of exercising His sovereign will changed several times. God chose Israel and then set Her aside; and one day, He will restore Israel as He literally fulfills His promises to the patriarchs. Meanwhile He is using the Church as a witness in this world.

Men who espouse the covenant position are not my enemies, they are my brothers in Christ. I rejoice with them in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, and together we will extol the grace of God for all eternity. But presently, the duel continues.

For a helpful article, read “What Is Dispensationalism?” by David Levy at: