Southern Baptists and Dispensationalism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by OldRegular, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. OldRegular

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    Throughout their history Baptists have generally believed that the return of Jesus Christ will be followed immediately by a resurrection of all the dead, both the ‘redeemed’ and the ‘lost’, and a general judgment. This conclusion is based on information presented in Baptist Confessions of Faith by William L. Lumpkin. It follows that since Baptists historically believed in a general resurrection and judgment they did not believe in an earthly millennial kingdom, they were either amillennialists or postmillennialists.

    The most significant passage of Scripture that teaches a general resurrection and judgment is spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ:

    John 5:28,29, KJV
    28. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
    29. And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.


    At the Southern Baptist Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia, June, 2000 the Baptist Faith and Message adopted at that time defined the Church as follows [Section VI]:

    “The New Testament also speaks of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all the redeemed of all ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

    It is important to note that the implications of a general resurrection and judgment are not trivial in today’s theological climate. A general resurrection and judgment means that there is no ‘secret rapture of the Church’ prior to any period of ‘great tribulation’, and no millennial reign. The Church will remain on earth until they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory [Matthew 24:30, KJV] and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen [Revelation 1:7, KJV]. Whatever tribulation comes before that time the Church will endure just as Jesus Christ taught and just as the history of the Church bears witness. In fact Scripture teaches repeatedly that tribulation is the norm of life for the Saints, the ‘true believers’.

    John F. Walvoord, the preeminent dispensationalist theologian and former president of the Dallas Theological Seminary confesses that the validity of the pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ depends on the definition of the Church [Major Bible Prophecies, page 282]. Walvoord writes, regarding the definition of the church:

    “If the question be asked: Will the church be raptured before end-time events? it becomes very important to define the church as an entity that is distinct from Israel or saints in general. In prophetic passages concerning the Tribulation, both Israelites and Gentiles are described, and some of them have faith in Christ and form a godly remnant. If they are part of the church, then the church is in the Tribulation, and the whole question as to whether the church goes through the Tribulation becomes moot. Many posttribulationists, in an attempt to establish their own point of view, beg the question at the very beginning by assuming that the church includes saints of all ages. The concept that the church is distinct from Israel is a part of dispensational truth that distinguishes the work of God in the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law, the work of God in the present age as he calls out both Jews and Gentiles to form the church as the body of Christ, and the millennial kingdom in which the saints of all ages participate in various ways but maintain their individual and corporate identity. Hence, the church will be raptured or resurrected, and will reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom, but the saved of Israel as well as the saved of the Gentiles who are not part of the church will also be part of the millennial kingdom. Distinguishing the church from saints of other periods that precede or follow the present age is essential to a correct answer on the pretribulational issue. It is not too much to say that the doctrine of the church, or ecclesiology, determines this aspect of eschatology.”

    Because of the influence of the Scofield Reference Bible, many Southern Baptists have embraced the dispensational error in the interpretation of Scripture. That error, unfortunately, includes:
    1] A misunderstanding of the mission of Jesus Christ and the nature or doctrine of the Church [ecclesiology].
    2] A false eschatology with emphasis on the removal of the Church followed by a seven year period of tribulation prior to the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of a fictional earthly kingdom for the Jews.

    We see that the definition of the Church as presented in the Baptist Faith and Message is directly contrary to the dispensational doctrine of the Church [also discussed in another thread]. Furthermore, the remarks by Walvoord show that the dispensational doctrine of a pretribulation rapture of the Church contradicts current Southern Baptist theology as well as historic Baptist Theology.
     
    #1 OldRegular, Dec 4, 2008
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  2. Jerome

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    Not true.

    Early English Baptists were persecuted for their scriptural teaching about the Millennial Kingdom. Take for example, Baptist pastor Benjamin Keach, put in the pillory in 1664 for daring to print his catechism A Child's Instructor:

    From the trial record:
    Clerk reads [from Keach's catechism for children]. "Question: How then shall it go with the saints? Answer: Oh very well! it is the Day that they have long'd for: then they shall hear that Sentence, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you: And so shall they reign with Christ on the Earth a thousand Years, &c."

    Yes, Benjamin Keach, persecuted by the Church of England in 1664 for standing up for the Bible's Millennial Kingdom teaching, is the prominent Particular Baptist pastor who signed the 1689 London Baptist Confession.




    Early English Particular Baptist pastor, Hanserd Knollys, expounds on the Bible's resurrection and millennium teaching:

    "The Resurrection of the Dead hath this Order, and is described by the Apostle in this manner, to wit, Christ first, I. Cor. 15. 22, 23, 24. afterwards they that are Christ's at his Coming. But the rest of the Dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, Rev. 20. 5, 6. This is the first Resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first Resurrection. They shall reign with Christ a thousand years, and that on Earth, Rev. 5. 9, 10. . . . . After the Saints are raised, and have lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, shall be the general Resurrection, Rev. 20. 12, 13." ---The World that Now is; and the World that is to Come: Or the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Wherein several Prophecies not yet fulfilled are Expounded (1681)



    Here is a contemporary report of what Baptists of the 1700s believed:

    "Many of the Baptists believe the Millennium, or the saints living and reigning with Christ upon earth 1000 years, for which there have not been wanting many judicious advocates;"

    ---James Murray, The History of Religion: Particularly of the Principal Denominations of Christians, 2d ed. (London, 1764) vol. 4, p. 225.




    And here is what a 1800s Baptist pastor believed:

    A confession of faith, circa 1890:

    "We, the undersigned, banded together in Fraternal Union, . . . .
    We hold and maintain the truths generally known as "the doctrines of grace." The Electing Love of God the Father, the Propitiatory and Substitutionary Sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, Regeneration by the Holy Ghost, the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness, the Justification of the sinner (once for all) by faith, his walk in newness of life and growth in grace by the active indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and the Priestly Intercession of our Lord Jesus, as also the hopeless perdition of all who reject the Savior, according to the words of the Lord in Matthew 25:46, "These shall go away into eternal punishment,"—are, in our judgment, revealed and fundamental truths.
    Our hope is the Personal Pre-millennial Return of the Lord Jesus in glory.

    C. H. SPURGEON. . . ."
     
  3. Tom Butler

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    I don't know how widespread dispensationalism is among Southern Baptists, but in my part of Western Kentucky and West Tennessee is was about the only game in town,starting the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    My first real exposure to eschatology (beyond the simiple "Jesus is coming again"), was dispensationalism. It was so pervasive that I had no idea that there were other views. It was so strong that some dispies were ready to accuse you of liberalism if you didn't buy in; and that the validity of your salvation might be suspect. The first influence I remember was the Scofield Bible, but the largest impact came with Hal Lindsey's "Late Great Planet Earth."

    My recollection is that the main teaching was the pre-trib rapture. The other aspect of dispensationalism were rarely mentioned.

    It wasn't that we opposed other views. We didn't even know there were other views.

    There were some variations among the dispies. I sort of embraced the last variation I read about, until the next one came along.

    If the truth be know, I suspect a lot of my fellow SBC-ers are avowedly pre-trib but don't know much about dispensationalism. Their pastors taught it, so it must be true.
     
  4. OldRegular

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    Jerome

    If you wish to refute my OP then go to the Baptist Confessions I referenced.

    OldRegular
     
  5. OldRegular

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    Sadly this is very true. All you hear is "Christians will miss the great tribulation".
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    The opposite is also true, that people are avowedly not pretrib, but don't know much about dispensationalism. We see a lot of that.
     
  7. Jim1999

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    Frankly, I think there has been a great variety of views held within the baptist community. Through certain periods of history some views prevailed in given areas of the world.

    Americans have been greatly influenced by some non-baptist schools that teach dispensationalism, Dallas is one They were also influenced by the introduction of the Scofield Reference Bible, the Bible of the Plymouth Brethren, who started the idea of the parenthetical church age,,an afterthought in the plan of God.

    Indeed many outspoken Baptists were of the historic premill viewpoint, but many were also posttribulation, including A.H. Strong.

    As we moved closer to the reformed colleges, many embraced amillennialism.

    I should imagine the three views will continue until Jesus comes. The fault comes when we make eschatology a test of fellowship. It is such a speculative doctrine and none of us really know the answers. It makes panmillennialism the true answer: whatever God planned will work out.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. OldRegular

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    Jim

    I have heard and used that expression before. Though I believe in a general resurrection and judgment, therefore no earthly millennium. Whether I am right or wrong I also understand that whatever God planned will pan out.

    My major problem with dispensationalism is not their eschatology but their teaching about the Church; that Jesus Christ offered a Messianic Kingdom it was rejected and the Church is the fall back plan. I reject that teaching as gross error.
     
  9. OldRegular

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    You could enlighten us all by simply answering the question I asked on another thread: Can someone or anyone show one passage of Scripture where Jesus Christ definitively offered an earthly Messianic Kingdom to the Jews?
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    What is gross is the misrepresentation of dispensationalism by those of the reformed persuasion. You cannot find one person who holds to dispensationalism who would characterize the church as such.

    There is no conflict with God both offering a Messianic Kingdom to the Jews and having the Plan (mystery) for the church. Much in the same way God offers salvation to those he knows will never receive it. Matt 13:3-9

    What dispensationalism actually teaches (for those who really care) is that the church was a mystery Ephesians 3:3-10, Colossians 1:26,27. But at no point is it characterized, described as or thought of as an after thought or Plan B.

    Any attempt to say otherwise is intentionally fallacious.
     
    #10 Revmitchell, Dec 4, 2008
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  11. OldRegular

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    Dispensationalist Herman A. Hoyt in the book, The Meaning Millennium, Four Views, edited by Robert Clouse writes [page 85]: "In spite of the clear teaching of Christ, the King and his kingdom were rejected. At the time of the first announcement of the kingdom, Christ understood there was contingency."

    Contingent:
    1. Depending for existence, occurrence, character, on something not yet certain.
    2. Liable to happen or not; uncertain; possible.
    3. Happening by chance or without known cause; fortuitous; accidental.

    Obviously your above characterization is fallacious Mr. Mitchell!
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    contingency

    noun
    1. a possible event or occurrence or result [syn: eventuality]
    2. the state of being contingent on something

    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University

    It is easy to take something out of context. Especially when you only present part of it. The word "contingency" is not given any context in your short snipet.
     
    #12 Revmitchell, Dec 4, 2008
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  13. Pastor Larry

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    OR,

    There are some who teach that the church was a fall back. Most these days seem to disagree. I don't think the church was plan B or a fall back.

    As for the Jews rejecting the kingdom, do you seriously dispute that they didn't? The Baptist said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus said, "The kingdom will be taken from you and given to a people producing the fruit of it." These seem strange things to say if there was no kingdom offered.

    Being an amillennilists as you are, you are forced to read passages in certain ways in order to conform to your beliefs, and that is always a dangerous way to do theology.
     
  14. Jim1999

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    Being an amillennilists as you are, you are forced to read passages in certain ways in order to conform to your beliefs, and that is always a dangerous way to do theology
    -------------------------------------

    Oh and dispensationalists don't stretch scripture to dream up a mystical rapture, a literal 1000 year kingdom, a special treatment for the Jews, when Israel has been embraced clearly in the church, the Israel of God.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    No, I think the text of Scripture is squarely on the side of the dispensationalist. I know of no passage that teaches that the promises of God to national Israel are fulfilled in the church, and that is the major point of dispensationalism: Did God mean what he said? I have seen most of the arguments I imagine, and so far, no one has been able to demonstrate from the text that God does not intend to fulfill his promises as he made them.

    As I have put it simplistically, dispensationalism believes that God meant what he said. He didn't mean something other than he said. There are many godly and good men who disagree with me, and that is fine. But let's at least be clear about what the issues are.

    The NT church is never called the Israel of God in the Bible. It simply isn't there, much less "clearly."

    So if the focus is going to be on the actual text of Scripture, the dispensationalists will win hands down every time, it seems to me. I am willing to entertain other ideas, but they have to use the text of Scripture.
     
  16. Jim1999

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    And where is this mystical secret rapture? I can hardly imagine a great return of the Lord with trumpets sounding cold be secret, along with the lifting up of so many people from the earth, and the graves...............that is literal interpretation?

    I just dug out my old Scofield Bible and I just can't read too much at once. It is like reading a fairy tale.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Old Regular: The Meaning of the Millennium, Four Views, edited by Robert Clouse
    ---------------------------------

    That is a very good book, giving all four views by commited people, and responses. I like it and highly recommend it be read by all.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
    #17 Jim1999, Dec 4, 2008
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  18. OldRegular

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    I took nothing out of context. Contingency is the state of being contingent on something which is defined below. You are spinning your wheels Mr. Mitchell!

    Contingent:
    1. Depending for existence, occurrence, character, on something not yet certain.
    2. Liable to happen or not; uncertain; possible.
    3. Happening by chance or without known cause; fortuitous; accidental.
     
  19. OldRegular

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    I agree!:thumbsup:
     
  20. OldRegular

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    The kingdom offered was not an earthly Messianic Kingdom and no one on this forum has offered any Scriptural proof that it was. Answer me this: Who are the people producing the fruit of the Kingdom?

    I would write this sentence as follows: Being a dispensationalist as you are, you are forced to read passages in certain ways in order to conform to your beliefs, and that is always a dangerous way to do theology.

    No where is this as clear as the dispensationalist twisting of the teaching of John 5:28, 29. Dispensationalist have dug themselves into a hole following Darby and Scofield and cannot bring themselves to climb out but keep digging deeper. Sad!
     

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