Calvinism and Dispensationalism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    I forgot about this article until a recent thread about the school. Anyway, I ran across it awhile back and while I may not necessarily agree completely with the author's theology, I found the article interesting. Sometimes it seems that we look at dispensationalism as originating outside of Calvinism. Ice, a dispensationalist, holds that dispensationalism reaches its fullest expression within Calvinism as that was the system that developed the view.

    http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=pretrib_arch

    (please move this if I posted in the wrong place....I didn't want it to become a "Cal vs Arm" debate but rather a look at dispensationalism).
     
  2. Reformed

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    So, for 1800 years Dispensationalism did not exist, and then, at the whim of a disenchanted Anglican (Church of Ireland brand), today's most prolific eschatological system was born. And we are supposed to believe that Dispensationalism finds its fullest expression within Calvinism? The evidence is lacking.
     
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  3. JonC

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    I think that you missed the point here, brother. It is not if the doctrine is valid (Ice acknowledges it was a new theology). The point is that it that dispensationalism (even if it is error) assumed a great degree of Calvinistic theology. It existed for a century pretty much restricted to Reformed doctrine (in several different denominations). It was only after 1920 that dispensationalism makes a marked appearance outside of Calvinism.

    I am not sure that you and I read the same article. It appears to me that history proves your statement in error. Given it's origin and first century influence within Reformed denominations, how do you see dispensationalism (even if an error) as not being rightly understood only within a Calvinistic soteriology?

    As Ice is a firm dispensationalist I find it reasonable that he come to that conclusion. It was the history of the doctrine after its formation (not its actual development or validity) that I found interesting.



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    #3 JonC, Feb 9, 2016
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  4. Iconoclast

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    from the article.....speaking of covenant theologians;

    this is false...
    the article seeks to link people who at one time held a common soteriological position, but have now departed from that as they did from the eschatological positions of the reformers and puritans.

    the fact that there is a link on some soteriology was because churches were at one time primarily confessional....they departed because in part of these movements...

    the article seems a bit light on proving what it sounded like it was trying to do....this system has more in common with the Millerites, and Azusa street.
     
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  5. JonC

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    I agree (and I believe this still occurs to some extent).


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  6. Iconoclast

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    Hello JONC
    thanks for posting this article. It is informative as to how some professed believers see church history unfolding, nevertheless...it is somewhat suspect, but that is how it is many times. I would rather see how these people explain it in their own words and then have something to contrast with other understandings....thanks for your post.
     
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  7. JonC

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    You're welcome. I enjoy these types of articles, even when I don't hold the same theology. In terms of dispensationalism vs. covenant theology, I suppose I’m neither. There are obviously dispensations and covenants in Scripture - I doubt either side disagrees on that point. Instead the argument concerns through which lens redemptive history is viewed (how does God deal with man). I believe the best lens is the Abrahamic Covenant.

    Anyway, what I found interesting was Dr. Ice’s purpose in the article. What he is doing is examining why dispensationalism both originated, spread, and remained for some time within Calvinistic theology. (He acknowledges that it was a “new doctrine” developed by Darby). What is interesting is that it spread during its first 100 years within the Reformed tradition (to include strict 5 point Calvinistic churches and more moderate 4 point congregations). It has only been this last century that it’s gained significant ground outside of Calvinism (in the 1920's with the Pentecostals).

    I find the history here more interesting than the author’s theology and conclusions (while his conclusions and theology may be questionable, his data is both historic and IMHO interesting). And to be fair, Ice is not contending for dispensationalism in the article. And while I disagree with some of his theology, I am man enough to admit that "Dr. Ice" is a pretty cool name. Laugh
     
    #7 JonC, Feb 9, 2016
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  8. beameup

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    Time Past - But Now - Ages to Come
    Perhaps "dispensationalism" should be rightly called a rediscovered "forgotten truth" (suppressed by 4th C Catholicism, for obvious reasons).

    Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13
    That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7

    1 Cor 9:17b a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. [ie: "house rules"]
    Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
    Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
    Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
     
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  9. Martin Marprelate

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    Having been saved in a Brethren assembly, I read Harold Rowden's book, Who are the Brethren and Does it Matter? One point he makes is that not all Brethren were Dispensational. George Muller was certainly not so. Darby's dominating personality led to an early split among the Brethren into the 'Open Brethren' and the 'Exclusives.' In the church where I was, there was not a heavy emphasis on Dispensationalism, but we used to get visiting speakers who were very heavily so. It was one fellow preaching Dispensationalism out of 2 Thessalonians that made me start studying the subject and come to the conclusion that it is incorrect.

    Dispensationalism had a huge vogue during the 19th Century. Men like Andrew Bonar and even J.C. Ryle were affected by it and Spurgeon, although he opposed the teaching, started talking about a 'Millennial Kingdom' although his millennial kingdom didn't actually have an end!

    The other thing that Ice's article brings out very clearly is that Dispensationalism was not originally a Baptist doctrine. It began and spread originally amongst Episcopalians and Presbyterians.
     
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  10. Deacon

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    Early in the history of Dispensationalism there were a broad mixture of associations. It was a popular, somewhat ill-defined movement that included even Covenant theology.

    Rob
     
  11. JonC

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    The Early Church Fathers often talked about dispensations. I don't think, however, that they did so in terms of what we consider to be Dispensationalism. To be fair, Covenant Theology is also not spelled out clearly in their writings....but I think that we can see somewhat of a foundation in at least Augustine (as he presents God's instruction not to eat of the fruit lest Adam die to constitute a legal covenant).
     
  12. JonC

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    Thank you, brother, for the information and observation. What surprised me when I first read the article was that the doctrine remained within Reformed theology for so long before gaining ground outside of that theological view. I had also not previously considered that Dispensationalism assumed a Calvinistic soteriology (with a strong emphasis on Divine Sovereignty). For some reason I had always considered the theory to be primarily accepted among Baptists, and external to Reformed faith (obviously I had not studied the development of Dispensationalism).
     
  13. JamesL

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    I didn't read very far into the article. Well, pretty much stopped agter reading the first fallacy.

    The author made an unbiblcal distinction between Soteriology and Eschatology, in the same way all supposed "Calvinist Dispensationalist"

    OT mentions of Salvation are primarily Eschatological where they concern Israel. Even Peter's sermon in Acts 2 quoted Joel 2:32 "whosoever calks on the Name of the Lord shall be saved" and Paul quoted it in Romans 10:13

    But there have been many Covenant Theologians along the way who have misunderstood that principal
     
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  14. JonC

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    I don't think the merit of the article is in the author's theology (in truth, I don't see Thomas Ice arguing for dispensationalism). I suppose the only people who will agree with the author insofar as his theology would be Calvinistic Disponsationalists. It seems at first glance a few people posted along the same line (the author's theology or conclusions of another theory is flawed....), but the point is it's historical development rather than it's validity (and here the author makes several good points). As I mentioned to Reformed, I think it fair to expect the author will interpret some issues through his theological viewpoint. But that is the presumption, not the topic, of the article. I simply found it interesting from a historical point of view.

    I ran across this article a few years ago, but didn't really give it too much consideration I guess. I always linked Dispensationalism to non-Calvinistic theology (again, an obviously poor assumption on my part).
     
    #14 JonC, Feb 10, 2016
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  15. walkinspirit

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    Dispensationalism as we understand it today its true that it has its beginnings in the early part of 19th cent. John Nelson Darby who was a member and one of the leaders of the Plymouth Brethren was the one that came up with this new system.

    Historically In the early post-apostolic church the belief in pre-millennialism was popular but later on at the time of Augustine Amilanialism became the general accepted view.

    The shift from pre-millennialism to amillenialism I believe it happened during the 3rd and 4th century with Origen and Augustine.

    Despentionalism of J.N.Darby became popular in american among evangelicals thanks to D.L.Moody and Scofield etc.

    The Reformed Calvinist held to the replacement theology but there were many prominent Presbyterians who were dispensationalists by the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th cent.

    I believe that amillennialism was a doctrine that was believed after the apostolic period, it is a post apostolic invention.

    Also the secret rapture of the church before the 7 years of the great tribulation is not at all part of historical pre-millennialism of the early church, neither does it have any biblical support because rapture according to NT teaching happens at the second coming of Christ at the last trumpet.
     
    #15 walkinspirit, Feb 10, 2016
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  16. JonC

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    I wonder the extent shifting worldviews had on many of these views. It's interesting to consider exactly how external circumstances could affect how the Church viewed itself in relation to the "end times" (I'm thinking of situations such as persecution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, or even the social depression after WWII). The decline in Postmillennialism, for example, is sometimes attributed to cultural disenchantment following WWII.
     
  17. JamesL

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    I don't think that either. You earlier stated that the purpose of the article was to show why Dispensationalism spread through Calvinism. I was only offering the most simple reason why....

    Because Calvinists have consistently made the same error as Ice - thinking of Soteriology and Eschatology can be mutually exclusive.

    That's like having an "all chocolate" ice cream shop, and thinking there's no tension if you offer a butterscotch sundae. Does one not realize that a sundae IS ice cream?

    Just like Eschatology IS Soteriology.

    My whole point was that if someone (including Ice) thinks it's even remotely possible that Eschatology can be a distinct issue from Soteriology, he is ill-equipped to have an informed opinion on either.
     
  18. agedman

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    Jon,
    I know a number of ancient pastors that changed their thinking after WWI and certainly during the atomic age.

    They often expressed how the passages of the Revelation would become "unclouded" where before there was always some mystery as to how the events could actually happen.

    When I read the early writings of scholarship, there is also this understanding that they did not have the life experiences to be able to grasp what we do in our day. Pre-electricalization (my word) of the "civilized" world was a hugely different mindset and way of thinking than what we come to the table to share. An example is most clearly seen in the medical field.

    One can find a great amount of agreement in the historic pre-mil and reformed/calvin views, just as one can find the same agreement with any typical soteriological view in any standard eschatological thinking.

    That the reformed understood and agreed with the dispensation view FIRST is just a matter of being the best educated, the most Scripture scholarly, and the wisest of any grouping. Whistling Laugh
     
  19. JonC

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    I agree here. These doctrines cannot be compartmentalized into separate, unrelated themes.
     
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