Spurgeon on Dispensationalism

Every now and then, I’ll hear someone say that Dispensationalism is not new; that it’s been around since the early church. They may point to stray quotes from Ireneaus and other church fathers to bolster their position. Regrettably, their position rests on an obfuscation on what, exactly, Dispensationalism is.

Will the real Dispensationalism stand up?

Let’s start with definitions.

a system of order, government, or organization of a nation, community, etc., especially as existing at a particular time.

Note that there is nothing specifically relevant to Christian theology in this definition. In other words, if a person reads their Bible, they might naturally observe that different “dispensations” were in effect for Adam and Eve (pre-fall), than for, say, Abraham or Moses or Paul. Does that then make them a Dispensationalist (big “D”)?

In a word, no!

Almost without exception, every Christian scholar of every stripe believes that God uses different distinct epochs/ages/dispensations over human history. A Dispensationalist (Classical and Traditional Dispensationalist) believes much more than this. They believe:

  1. Sharp distinction between Israel and the Church (both in the past and in the future, with God having two distinct plans for the two distinct peoples)
  2. Insistence on historical-grammatical interpretation
  3. Progressive Revelation of God’s glory through history

As Ryrie himself says, “The essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction of Israel and the Church. This grows out of the dispensationalists consistent employment of normal or plain interpretation, and it reflects an understanding of the basic purpose of God in all His dealings with mankind as that of glorifying Himself thought salvation and other purposes as well.” This view is affirmed by Scofield, Chafer, Ironside, Hodges, MacArthur and many others.

But what do we do for Believers who affirm points 2 and 3, but not 1? All of Church history prior to the 1800s falls into this group, and we certainly can’t call them Dispensationalists!

Is it really new?

Dispensationalism was started by Darby in the 1800s. Some people would dispute that claim, saying that he merely popularized it. Usually this rebuttal arises when one waters down what Dispensationalists believe.

But here’s a rather telling quote from a contemporary of Darby, Charles Spurgeon:

“Distinctions have been drawn by certain exceedingly wise men (measured by their own estimate of themselves), between the people of God who lived before the coming of Christ, and those who lived afterwards. We have even heard it asserted that those who lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the church of God!

We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed at one time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement. Why, every child of God in every place stands on the same footing; the Lord has not some children best beloved, some second-rate offspring, and others whom he hardly cares about.

These who saw Christ’s day before it came, had a great difference as to what they knew, and perhaps in the same measure a difference as to what they enjoyed while on earth meditating upon Christ; but they were all washed in the same blood, all redeemed with the same ransom price, and made members of the same body.

Israel in the covenant of grace is not natural Israel, but all believers in all ages. Before the first advent, all the types and shadows all pointed one way —they pointed to Christ, and to him all the saints looked with hope. Those who lived before Christ were not saved with a different salvation to that which shall come to us. They exercised faith as we must; that faith struggled as ours struggles, and that faith obtained its reward as ours shall”

Charles Suprgeon
Devotional Classics of C H Spurgeon, p122

Spurgeon’s comment tells us this much:

  • Dispensationalism (big “D”) was new to his day, teaching many new things yet unheard in Christendom
  • Dispensationalism taught the Church did not include OT saints
  • Spurgeon insisted that the OT saints were indeed part of the Church
  • People before Christ did not stand in the same light of revelation as NT saints (ie, progressive revelation)
  • In some way, Israel is not “natural Israel”, but rather, all believers of all ages

Very telling indeed.

6 comments to Spurgeon on Dispensationalism

  • Paul the apostle would concur with Spurgeon. In Romans 9:6 Paul said, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”.

  • Darby also taught a futurist interpretation of prophecy,which he got from Francisco Ribera” a Jesuit. Tgst became a part of Schofield’s commentary.

    • admin

      I’ve not read Darby. And I’ve never heard of Ribera.
      Personally, I’d really only care if the interpretation is viable, regardless of source.


  • BW

    I didn’t know that Spurgeon spoke ex cathedra. Just because he said or thought anything means as little to Biblical truth as what I ate for lunch yesterday. The guy was wrong on so many things. Just look at the above quote. Spurgeon used a made-up covenant (i.e., the covenant of grace) and a made-up definition of Israel. As well, he didn’t realize that the church was yet future at the time of Christ (cf. “I will build my church” Matt. 16:18) since Spirit baptism had not yet happened and Sprit baptism is the only way people become members of the church (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Acts 11:15–16 “At the beginning”). Spurgeon may have been a compelling speaker, but he was a shallow and ignorant theologian. People need to start using their brains and actually thinking for themselves.

    Honestly, reformed people don’t have any shame in mischaracterizing and lying about dispensationalism. I’ve found that dispensationalists tend to be very forgiving to the reformed crowd, but that is usually not reciprocated (kind of reminds me of American politics, the reformed being the Democrats in that scenario). Do some research, and try to actually give a fair hearing. As far as the sine qua non is concerned, points two and three usually offend reformed theologians. Number 2 simply speaks to consistency. Dispensationalists recognize that covenantalists (and the like) often apply a grammitcal-historical hermeneutic, but they are inconsistent, making exceptions primarily due to genre. Dispensationalists, on the other hand, model their hermeneutic after the examples the Bible demonstrates, such as how Christ interpreted OT passages of Jonah and Adam and Eve and how Daniel interpreted the writings of Jeremiah with literal years. A literal, normal, and plain interpretation is how the Bible has always been interpreted. In fact, it is the same methodology that is applied to the interpretation of the Constitution and federal laws (i.e., originalism). Furthermore, dispensationalists interpret prophecy according to the principles of Scripture and recognize that all prophecy was fulfilled literally. Any supposed “exceptions” are few and far between and are never actually exceptions. Often when reformed theologians examine the use of OT in the NT, they fail to employ a nuanced approach and demand that fulfillment is the only way that the OT is used in the NT (e.g., Joel 2:28–32 in Acts 2:17–21). Yet, the NT often uses OT passages to establish precedent and even to illustrate points.

    The third point of the sine qua non always gets the reformed. I would never deny that reformed theology is concerned with God’s glory. In fact, they incessantly discuss the immense glory God receives through the Gospel, which is overall a good thing, albeit narrow. Reformed theology tends to view God’s plan with only one facet. The Gospel becomes everything and the entire Bible is about salvation from a covenantal perspective (due to the invention of the theological covenants of grace and for many, redemption also). Yet, salvation is not the primary message of the Bible. I would argue that salvation is subservient to the main point of the Bible, which is the program of God’s restoration of physical Creation. Thus, salvation is not the main point of the Bible. The Bible is much more robust than that. God has separate purposes for the family, angels, government, and Israel, none of which are redemptive. For example, government’s design has nothing to do with salvation since governments are run almost unanimously by unsaved men toward goals that, while helping manage mankind’s immorality, do nothing to proclaim or promote salvation, yet they serve God’s purposes (Rom. 13:1–2). As well, Israel’s primary purpose was to bring about the restoration of the physical Creation through the mediatorial, Messianic Kingdom. The Kingdom is not a spiritual entity (since David’s throne is only a literal rule–cf. 1 Kings 2:12), it is God’s correction of earth physically. Thus, it is only an earthly Kingdom that will be ruled by the HaMashiach, Jesus. This is why the church is so important right now because the Body of Christ’s primary mission is spiritual in this age. Reformed theology typically has this completely backward. By conflating the church and the Kingdom they make God’s purposes for the future only spiritual and God’s purposes for the church primarily physical (i.e., social justice).

    Also, the assertion that dispensationalism is new is probably the most foolish argument I’ve ever heard. It makes you sound like a novice. You need to read more. I’m not sure why reformed folks think that holds any weight unless that’s really all they have for their arguments, which in that case, is truly pathetic. I don’t care if it was systematized yesterday. The question is whether it lines up with Scripture. Covenant theology has the same problem since it was formulated in the 1600s. Not too early in church history was it? Regardless, covenant theology and forms of federalism, calvinism, and reformed theology focus on the philosophies of men and then force them upon the text, whereas dispensationalism is the result of inductive (i.e., exegetical) study of the text. I even believe that sometimes dispensationalists have been guilty of deductive theology like reformed theologians (i.e., the dispensations of works, innocence, promise, and government), yet the ditinguishable economies of God in which man is commissioned toward distinct and focused tasks are explicitly enumerated in the text (Eph. 1:10; 3:2, 9). Dispensationalism is thoroughly Biblical because it is an orderly presentation of the Bible’s message, not an intellectual hypothesis about what the Bible could teach (i.e. reformed theology).

    Finally, I have to at least bring up the fact that reformed theology has its roots in gnosticism. All reformed theology relies on Augustine who was an adherent of Manichaeism for more than nine years. Manichaeism developed from Platonic teaching which viewed man and Creation through a dualistic lens. As I’m sure you’re familiar, gnostic teaching (i.e., Manichaeism) elevated the spiritual above the physical. It is unsurprising, then, to see that Augustine implemented this into his theology, though admittedly not to the extreme of full-blown gnosticism. Yet, convenantalism and all brands of Augustinianism have been plagued by this ever since. Amillennialism especially derives from gnostic dualism. Yet, God said the Creation was very good in Genesis 1:31 and His intention is for the Creation to be restored through the Millennial Kingdom. Dispensationalism, while suffering abusive lies that it is a “carnal” teaching (A.W. Pink wasn’t even that nice)is the only teaching that properly balances God’s intention for man spiritually as well as God’s plan for the physical Creation. It’s no wonder that reformed theology has such strong ties to theological liberalism and Hegelian dialecticism since it really has its roots in gnostic skepticism.

    I have made generalizations and not every detail is equally applicable to everyone who is reformed. With that, I hope next time you can offer something with at least a grain of Biblical and intellectual integrity.

    • admin

      BW – thanks so much for taking time to respond to my post. I greatly appreciate it.
      I’m sorry you’re so put out by it. Perhaps some clarification is in order.

      – This post is not about Reformed Theology (or Covenental Theology) vs Big D Dispensationalism (Classical and Traditional Dispensationalist). I appreacte your vast knowledge in comparing those subjects …but that’s not what I was writing about.

      – This post is also not about whether or not Dispensationalism is correct.
      Personally, I think Dispensationalism is not the best way to understand Biblical revelation, and find some parts of it strain credulity beyond my breaking point (eg, what is the Biblical basis for insisting that the Church started at Acts 2 and ends at the pre-trib rapture. Although I held that view until my late 20s, I now can’t support it from Scripture w/o a good dose of eisegesis. I see the Church as being all believers of all time). But I’m on no crusade to have Dispensationalism dismantled, or thrown out of the Church. ..and this post is not about exploring the Biblical accuracy of Dispensationalism. (again, emphasis on Big D Dispensationalism)

      – This post is about whether or not Dispensationalism (the JN Darby / Ryrie variation) is new in Church history, and

      – whether Dispensationalism (Big D) is sufficiently distinct from a general sense of dispensations in Bible history. To this end, I’ve talked at length to commentary authors, scholars and professors who affirm Dispensationalism, and even quoted from Ryrie to bolster my point: namely, that one can affirm general dispensations in the Bible (as several early church fathers did) without being a full-bore JN Darby / Ryrie Dispensationalist. Sorry, but Eph 1:10; 3:2, 9 do not go far enough to seal the deal for a Darby/Ryrie brand of Dispensationalism. Yours is a huge stretch …one that many Dispensationalists don’t mind making. But as I read pre-Darby commentaries on these verses, I fail to see how anyone could see these verses as “explicitly enumerat[ing]” anything, let alone specific Darbyesque Dispensations. These verses strike me as general references to various ‘administrations’, with no clear explanation as to what an ‘administration’ is.
      Is it a hard distinction between the Church and Israel? Doesn’t say.
      Is it a doctrine that has a different eschatology for the Church than for Israel? Doesn’t say. Etc, etc, etc.

      – This post is also about the reactions of prominent saints (namely Spurgeon) when they first heard Darby speak on Dispensationalism in the mid 1800s. The reason I included Spurgeon is because many Dispensationalists I know hold Sprugeon in high regard. And they’re shocked to find that he (and many others) held Dispensationalism in contempt.

      – And it is most definitely about what we should call people who affirm a general sense of various dispensations in Bible history, but reject Darby/Ryrie Big-D Dispensationalism – people like me who believe the Church started with the first believer (Adam or Abel); who believe ALL saints (OT, NT, Jew and Gentile from east and west) will be on the earth during the Millennium alongside those believers who survived the Great Tribulation (Matt 8:10-12); who reject the idea that NT saints (whom they call “the Church”) will be in heaven but OT saints and Jewish converts (who are not part of “the Church”) will be on the earth during the Millennium.

      – – –

      In the final analysis, we have one requirement for any new doctrine we come across: search the Scriptures to see if these things are true [which, I must add, is not the same as “Search the Scriptures to see if these things are NOT true”]. To that end, you’re right: it actually doesn’t matter whether or not a doctrine came late in church history. It doesn’t matter whose pen it came from. It doesn’t even matter the gender of the person delivering the doctrine. It only matters whether it agrees with Scripture. After all, we don’t want to commit genetic fallacies, right?

      So I confess I find it somewhat odd that you reject and find foolish my claim that Dispensationalism is new – yet provided no support for your assertion. Perhaps you ran out of time and energy? 🙂 I find myself echoing Erasmus: “We require arguments, not assertions!” Tossing up a couple of references to vague administrations/dispensations merely acknowledges that some kind of dispensations exist, but is NOT full-bore Darby/Ryrie Dispensationalism. Not even close! Go back and read my quote from Ryrie. I challenge you to provide Biblical support for this.

      And if that weren’t bad enough, your last paragraph plunged straightaway into the error of genetic fallacies: “Augustine was a Manichean for a time, it had to influence his teaching, therefore nothing he says should be trusted”.
      How does that follow?? Can a person never repent for heresies?? I thought we weren’t supposed to engage in genetic fallacies.
      So I admit I find myself mildly amused. Just curious: do you actually know how much of your own worldview is influenced by Platonic or Aristotilean thought? Was Paul’s? He affirmed Greek philosophers (Epimenides abnd Menander to name a couple), and even said they were correct on occasion. Should we abandon Pauline doctrine because of his past? After all, you do know he was a Christian-killing Pharisee for several years, right? And surely that influenced his winner-takes-all-let-God-sort-em-out stance against enemies (1 Cor 16:22; 1 Cor 5:4-5) One wonders: would Greeks have assumed Jesus knew a thing or two about Aristotle because He emulated his peripatetic style of teaching? I admit that Hegel is new to me in my study of the history of philosophy, but didn’t Jesus use something akin to Hegelian dialecticism when refuting the Jews in John 10? Didn’t WL Craig use it to answer Euthyphro’s Dilemma?

      I have not addressed every detail you’ve laid out. With that, I hope next time you can focus on the point of the post with at least a grain of focus. And it wouldn’t hurt to know that tend to keep my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.

      Ever onward, ever upward.


  • BW

    Hi Admin,

    I do also appreciate your reply, specifically because I feel that you took the time to put forth something substantive. I wish more debates on the internet could be characterized by thoughtful replies, rather than half-cocked insults. I commend you for that.

    I also want you to know that simply because I disagree with reformed theology (and you), I do recognize those who believe the Gospel as my brothers in Christ. The test of brotherhood is the person and work of Christ received through faith alone. Yet, disagreements such as this one are similar to the relationship between brothers by blood. As I was growing up, my older brother and I fought often, but our relationship remained the same–He never stopped being my brother. While I never want to treat my brothers and sisters in Christ like I treated my brother , there is a legitimate place for sharp disagreements over important issues. Certainly, the total structure and message of the Bible is an important issue. With that, here is my reply.


    1. You are correct to point out that your post was not on the validity of dispensationalism or reformed theology (I use “reformed” as a catchall). My intention is not to argue by appealing to dichotomies as if because one can be proven false, that validates the other. However, as you will see, dispensationalism stands in a realm all its own since it is the only approach to Scripture that follows a consistently literal interpretive method; all other approaches fall along a spectrum of allegorical interpretation.

    As regards the point of your post, your statements brought both dispensationalism and reformed theology into focus (you cited Spurgeon who made his arguments by appealing to covenant theology) and your primary argument was apologetical in nature. Your argument was meant to give support to the tired and flimsy argument that dispensationalism is new, and therefore, the thinking goes, those areas in which dispensationalism treads unprecedented ground in church history should be rejected. It is common knowledge to those who’ve studied this arena of theology that the charge of recency is a primary argument for reformed theology when arguing against dispensationalism. On this basis, my focus on addressing the errors of reformed theology and supporting dispensationalism was quite valid and was able to bypass this red herring.

    In other words, my arguments were on topic and deliberate. I did not misunderstand your points.

    2. The fact that the church began in Acts 2 is quite apparent in Scripture––to at least the same degree as the Triunity of God. Here’s the evidence:

    (a) Christ first revealed that He would build a new body of believers in Matthew 16:18. Not only did He use the future tense (indicating the building had not yet been started), but in Ephesians 2:20, Paul describes this structure as having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone. Now, while this is an analogy and every piece should not be taken too far, Paul uses this picture to explain what God is now doing in the world through a NEW group of people which includes believing Jews and Gentiles together as members of the Body of Christ. Such a body could not be built before Christ as He is the cornerstone or before the apostles since they were part of the foundation. This is the most straightforward and natural reading of both passages.

    (b) 1 Corinthians 12:13 states: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Paul says later in Colossians 1:18 that this body is the CHURCH. Therefore, to be a member of the church, one must be baptized by the Spirit (i.e., immersed into Christ) from which Paul derives the powerful prepositional phrase “in Christ.” In only two short words, Paul was able to summarize the immense doctrine of the church. Spirit Baptism into Christ is how one becomes a member of the church.

    (c) Now, taking the two facts already established, Peter’s words in Acts 11:15–16 tie it all together. Notice that Peter recounts how the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentile believers exactly as happened in Acts 2 to the Jews gathered at the Temple for Pentecost. Interestingly, Peter said that Acts 2 was “the beginning.” But what was it the beginning of? He goes on in verse 16 to explain how he remembered Jesus saying that they would eventually be baptized by the Holy Spirit, to which Peter identifies as having happened at the beginning in Acts 2. Therefore, Acts 2 was the beginning of the baptism of the Spirit which means it was the beginning of the Body of Christ.

    This is the plain, face value of these passages. To assert a different view of the church’s beginning than espoused here places the burden on the one asserting it. And in light of the overwhelming evidence––of which I again point out is of the same kind and weight as God’s Triunity––any such assertion is erroneous.

    3. As far as the pretribulational Rapture, the evidence is abundant as well. I’m not sure why this is such a divisive issue or why reformed theologians look down their noses at dispensationalists (perhaps because Left Behind became a bestseller and the “scholarly” laugh at it as though somehow a fictional depiction of prophetic events invalidates those events; the logic doesn’t add up) for holding to a pre-trib view, but this view is not only valid but the natural way of reading the text.

    First, Paul reveals this event in detail in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–53. He wrote 1 Thessalonians first so by the time he wrote 1 Corinthians, he was filling in more detail. He describes this event as the resurrection of the dead and the translation of living believers into glorified bodies. He explains that Christ will return at which time the dead will rise and those living will be translated and they will all be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. That words “caught up” are the translation of the Latin word “rapio” which is a translation of the Greek word ἁρπάζω. As well, Paul includes a cognate of that technical prepositional phrase “in Christ” when he says those who have died “in Jesus” will be raised from the dead (1 Thess. 4:14), indicating that he is referring to those who were baptized into the Body of Christ which began in Acts 2.

    Second, Paul referred to the coming of Christ for His church as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). He explains that God’s grace has instructed believers to be looking forward to this blessed hope. Since it is a participle, it states how believers are to live godly throughout the present age, meaning this is to be the continual longing of the believer throughout the age. This indicates that the blessed hope can happen at any moment, including right now as I type this. Yet, Christ’s return to earth (which the Rapture passages never describe––they merely describe Him returning to the air to meet His church) comes roughly seven years from the beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29) which is marked by the firm compact made with Israel by the lawless one (i.e., the Antichrist; Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3). However, we certainly are not in the Tribulation since such a compact has not taken place, nor is there a temple in Israel within which the lawless one will desecrate the altar.

    Third, Paul made it clear that believers will be spared from the time of God’s wrath. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul explains that the Thessalonians were waiting for Jesus Christ who would rescue them from the wrath to come. That the wrath to come refers to the Tribulation is brought out both by Paul’s attachment of it to Christ’s return (since at Christ’s return to establish His literal Kingdom upon the earth, God will cease pouring out His wrath) and the fact that Paul explains this wrath in 1 Thessalonians 5 as the Day of the Lord. Additionally, Revelation 6:16–17 indicates that God’s wrath is poured out on the earth during the Tribulation as unbelievers cry out to the mountains to hide them from the Lamb’s wrath. Paul states this point again at the end of 1 Thessalonians by explaining that God has not destined believers for the wrath of the Day of the Lord, but the rescue of Jesus Christ. Therefore, God’s intention for believers is to remove them from the earth so that He can deal with mankind in wrath, something Paul makes very clear.

    This doesn’t even begin to exhaust the arguments FROM Scripture that indicate that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation. For those who hold alternate views, especially those who are amillennial, postmillennial, or hold non-futurist views of eschatology, they must step past a simple and plain reading of the Scriptures. Again, the burden of proof is on them. Both the beginning of the church in Acts 2 and the pretribulational Rapture are the straightforward readings.

    4. Examining whether dispensationalism is new in church history goes back to my original point––what does it matter? Why are you even wasting time on this? I do think historical studies have some value, but when discussing frameworks for understanding the Bible which have antecedents in church history (both covenant theology and dispensationalism do), arguments from church history hold little weight. Anytime someone distinguished the church from Israel as distinct entities, they were espousing the basic idea of dispensationalism. Yet, your post was apologetical in nature.

    Now, by tying dispensationalism to Ryrie and Darby, you effectively push the argument away from the teachings of dispensationalism and onto the people and their particular views. Where Darby and Ryrie derived their ideas from the text, they were right. Those places where their views were built on deductions, they went too far. By and large, especially Ryrie, they were spot on in reflecting the teachings of Scripture. Regardless of whether their views were held earlier in church history, which they were from the earliest days.

    5. No dispensationalist who has done his homework would argue that affirmation of “dispensations” equates to dispensationalism. I think this is what confuses so many people on the topic. Perhaps if we used a term like “arrangements” or “administrations” there would be less confusion. Dispensationalism is not focused on the “seven” dispensations that are the caricature of it. Dispensationalism focuses on three different administrations in which God accomplishes His purposes through man. The main point is that God requires different things from His administrators in these administrations. Thus, one cannot go to the Old Testament to find out about church-age truth and practice. One also cannot go to Kingdom related passages and find church doctrine and practice. But to argue that no one in church history before Darby held to distinctions like this is absurd. They most certainly did.

    The Syrian and Alexandrian schools were opposed to one another with the former interpreting the Bible literally (i.e., normally) and the latter interpreting it allegorically. From the Alexandrian school came Origen and Augustine, the father of Roman Catholic (though soteriologically they’ve swung toward Pelagianism over time) and reformed theology. Allegorical interpretation, which interpreted the church as the fulfillment of the Jewish covenants, came from Alexandria and is carried forward primarily by covenant theology today. The Syrian school in Antioch, however, was chiliastic (i.e., premillennial) and saw Israel as distinct enough from the church that they believed Israel would be restored and saved at Christ’s return. The finer details were unpolished, but the distinction was there. While some modern frameworks (e.g., new covenant theology, progressive dispensationalism) could in part find their heritage in the Syrian school, the literal approach is closest to classical/traditional (I wish “traditional” was not the accepted term) dispensationalism. As well, men like Hippolytus, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus presented interpretations (e.g., Dan. 9:24–27) that are the same, though less refined, as dispensational interpretations today.

    You can say “sorry, but Eph 1:10; 3:2, 9 do not go far enough to seal the deal,” but they do in fact. Denying it doesn’t remove Paul’s point. The administrations that Paul discusses refer to the three dispensations I’ve already discussed: Law, Grace, and the Kingdom. In Ephesians 2:2 and 9, Paul identifies an arranged order which operates by grace (i.e., a favorable and liberating disposition) and functions through the mystery––the new body of Jews and Gentiles. It’s no more complicated than that. God currently deals with man favorably through His Body, the church. Part of that favorable disposition is that God now fulfills His purposes through man without binding His administrators under a heavy burden (Rom. 6:14). So the dispensation of Grace is a Biblical administration. And by distinguishing this as a new administration that had been hidden previously, Paul establishes that there was an administration that operated differently before Grace. It is clear from his writings, particularly Galatians, that this administration was Law. I’m sure you and I wouldn’t even disagree over this. Yet, I recognize these administrations as being distinct and because of the new entity that began within this new administration of Grace (i.e., the mystery church), I understand that Israel and the church are distinct and functioned under distinct administrations. It’s that simple. To take the New Testament any other way places the burden on you. The straightforward, literal reading is that Israel’s covenant promises will be fulfilled to and through Israel and that the church’s spiritual promises will be fulfilled to and through the church. Very simple; very straightforward. To define these entities in any way other than according to their plain meanings moves outside of God’s authority over His Word. Remember, just because Paul states that Christians are related spiritually to Abraham by faith and therefore will be blessed by the promises made to Abraham does not mean that they have overtaken the covenants. Paul never says that the church is related to Jacob. Neither does the New Testament say that we are related to the covenants––it says Gentile believers are related to the promises; the difference between Genesis 12 (promise) and Genesis 15 (covenant). The only place the New Testament speaks of the New Covenant is in relation to Israel, aside from 2 Corinthians 3:6, (e.g., the book of “Hebrews”––that’s what a Hebrew is, even when they believe in Jesus Christ; and the Gospels which were dealing with Israel during the Passover Seder, a Jewish feast). The subject matter of Hebrews makes clear that the audience was Jewish since the writer makes a lengthy treatise on the Law in the Mosaic Covenant in relation to Christ. That is not something Gentile believers have ever related to. And as far as 2 Corinthians 3:6 is concerned, that passage says it has made us “servants” of the New Covenant. In other words, we are serving the nation of Israel and preparing the way for the New Covenant by provoking them to jealousy.

    To say “Is it a hard distinction between the Church and Israel? Doesn’t say” begins with a false premise––that Israel and the church overlap. By the very definition of these two entities––”church” being a different word than “Israel” and both having distinct meanings––continuity is a conclusion superimposed on the text. This is what I find unbelievable about those who reject dispensationalism––they always act as though dispensationalism is contorting the text WHEN DISPENSATIONALISM IS SLAVISHLY DEVOTED TO THE PLAIN FACE VALUE OF THE TEXT. Which approach submits to God’s Word more, the one that departs from a plain reading or the one that just takes Israel to mean Israel and the church to mean the church?

    6. You used Spurgeon to argue your point, asserting: “In some way, Israel is not ‘natural Israel’, but rather, all believers of all ages.” You provide no proof for that statement. You just appealed to Spurgeon and instead of writing a conclusion you let him have the last word as though he was authoritative. Hence, why I made the tongue-in-cheek statement about Spurgeon speaking ex cathedra. All you say is “very telling indeed” as though the evidence spoke for itself. True, Spurgeon was opposed to and taken aback by dispensationalism, but asserting that Israel is not “natural Israel” (which again is not stated anywhere in Scripture but is a deductive argument based on allegorical assumptions that step past the face value of the term Israel) on the basis that Spurgeon said it is worthless.

    7. Again, suggesting that the church began with Adam or Abel or in the Old Testament is not from the text of Scripture. That is so obviously an extra-Biblical deduction. There is not a single passage in the Bible that says anything remotely close to that. You have to force that upon the text which is the definition of eisegesis. The church is found in the NT, not the OT. Therefore, your view is an extreme leap.

    8. You are correct that I did not give positive proof as to dispensationalism not being new. That was my mistake. I worded my statement in such a way that it didn’t reflect what I was getting at. Nearly every doctrinal position has been a development of the past and neither reformed theology or dispensationalism as taught today can be found throughout the majority of church history. Yet, they both can point back to their major underpinnings in the past. I guess what I’m saying is that dispensationalism is no different than other theological frameworks regarding its history. It’s a moot point.

    9. With regard to genetic fallacy, your entire argument was related to genetic fallacy, in that if dispensationalism has no genesis in church history, it’s teaching must be a new invention not from God. Just because philosophy courses and YouTube have popularized the topic of logical fallacies in recent days doesn’t mean people really understand when and how to apply them. An argument that commits the error of genetic fallacy points to a view’s ORIGIN as the determination of whether it’s valid or false. A genetic fallacy does NOT account for the current form of a view or for the development of that view over time. It appeals solely to the consensus of its origin without regard to whether it reflects that or developed in a way that was consistent with its origin. Make sure you understand logical fallacies well before you quickly dismiss an argument based on one. Appealing to logical fallacies to dismiss an argument can be a logical fallacy in and of itself.

    The fact is that reformed theology today STILL propagates a major component of gnostic teaching. You put words in my mouth by saying “Augustine was a Manichean for a time, it had to influence his teaching, therefore nothing he says should be trusted.” Those were not my words. I’m not saying “it had to influence his teaching,” I’m saying it did influence his teaching. I also never said he was wrong about everything. The fact is that he used a gnostic framework to build his system of theology. As an example, JWs aren’t in error on every single view they hold, but I would never listen to their teaching because their structure of theology is thoroughly corrupted. So is Augustine, though to a lesser degree since he did reject the extremes of Gnosticism. Deny it if you want, but the duality of the material world and the elevation of the spiritual over the physical comes directly from Gnosticism. As well, Augustine and Origen carried this into their interpretive schemes. This is well documented and even a cursory reading of “The City of God” evidences his tendency to seek a higher spiritual meaning than the face value of the text. This can be traced through church history. The connection between Augustine and Gnosticism as well as the connection between Augustine and the reformers is sufficiently documented. You can reject that there is any importance to that, but the connection is there. Reformed theology places emphasis on the spiritual and allegorizes the text. This developed, though with refinement, through the Alexandrian school who produced many gnostics including Augustine. And Augustine, who did “repent of heresies” in regards to denials of Christ’s person, employed his Manichean training to his interpretation of the Bible as a whole.

    10. To some degree, Greek philosophers were influenced by Tanakh-believing Jews, just as the Greeks Hellenized some Jews. Furthermore, God has generally revealed Himself in the Creation and man’s conscience. To the extent that a Greek philosopher was influenced by these sources, I believe they could hold some merit. So, yes, Greco-Roman influence is a large part of society today. As to the Greek philosophers Paul appealed to, he was not vindicating their worldview, he was merely appealing to a single point of similarity––much like when evangelizing someone from another religion, you can often find a point in their philosophy that is generally true and launch from there. Yet, that is a far cry from vindicating their worldview. What I’m speaking of with Augustine isn’t merely him finding a point of similarity between Gnosticism and a Biblical worldview, he borrowed the whole framework. As well, Paul’s past was built around the Tanakh, though a corrupted application of it. By the time he became a Christian, he wasn’t carrying in a false framework, he was carrying the OT Scriptures and a worldview that was built out of them. His biggest hurdle was stripping away the self-righteousness that Judaism had developed, which he did.

    Also, Jesus did not use Hegelian dialecticism in John 10. Hegelian dialecticism is the view (in a nutshell) that a continual chain of compromise of conflicting views leads to truth so that no view by itself can be held as true, but each time it comes into conflict with its opposite, it is forced to compromise (i.e., synthesize) and becomes a closer refinement toward truth.

    As far as William Lane Craig and Euthyphro’s dilemma, that is a perfect example of senseless philosophizing. The Scriptures do not answer the question. Whenever the Scriptures are silent on an issue (related to theology, faith, and practice), it’s best to leave it alone. Philosophy is the Achilles heel of Christianity. Philosophy may derive from the Greek words meaning “the love of wisdom” but it has come to mean “the love of man’s speculation.”

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

    11. Finally, I did focus on the post with a “grain of focus.” I just discussed necessary points directly related to the point of your post that went beyond the narrow polemical handcuffs you’d like to place on me. My statements were relevant and gave the necessary background against your argument.

    I cannot stress this enough:

    The burden of proof is on you and all who hold views that step past the plain statements of the text.

    It is incredibly frustrating that the reformed crowd has framed things in such a way that they talk about dispensationalism like it’s this extreme leap when it merely takes the Bible at its word. Even if you reject dispensationalism at least be honest enough to recognize that it does take the text in the most straightforward way: Israel means Israel, the church means the church, the Millennial Kingdom means the Millennial Kingdom, the New Covenant is for Judah and Israel because it says it is made with “Judah and Israel,” the Millennial Temple will be a literal temple with literal sacrifices because it says it will be, one-thousand years means one-thousand years, so on and so forth.

    The fact of the matter is that dispensationalism is valid regardless of its late FORMAL development in church history. It’s major tenets, however, have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days.

    Every person has a decision: will you let the text speak and take it at face value or will you make the text say what you see fit?

    With that, I pray the best for you. I also pray that you will not be an old man by the time you reach the end of my lengthy rebuttal.

    In Christ,

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