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"When the plain sense make common sense, seek no other sense."

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Gold Dragon, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows New Member

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    Figures of speech are often used and crafted for emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use.

    But that's language!

    This adage about "if the plain sense makes sense..." is very dangerous for interpretation.

    The bible was written by non English speaking people 2000 years ago. Like it or not that's God's chosen vehicle.

    But by insisting that we look for the "plain sense" - we are referring to the 20th century western plain sense. That may be quite dissimilar to the "plain sense" in which it was written.

    I think we should look at context, context, and context to determine what God is trying to say through the language.

    To me this "plain sense" adage is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to legitimize literalist interpretation.
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    That is what the plain sense is.

    Literal interpretation needs no legitimization. We use it every day, in every thing we say. There is no need to depart from it when we study Scripture. Your participation on this thread depends on the very hermeneutic you deny.
     
  3. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows New Member

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    You illustrate my point well.

    You and I can communicate well because we both live in the 21st century in America and speak English as our native language.

    Now I'm not saying that we cannot understand the Bible due to language issues - far from it.

    What I'm saying is that the literal reading of a passage should not be accepted because it makes "plain sense" but rather because it is supported by context. As such I choose to see many of the eschatology passages as figurative, because that's what the historical and literary context tells me.
     
  4. mioque

    mioque New Member

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    To explain some of the weirdness in this thread.

    I left this thread open on one of the computers in the churchlibrary when I wandered of to check if the new layer of varnish on one of the pews I had been working on had dried.
    When I returned, a 14 year old boy had taken it on to himself to reply to this thread, that's against the rules here so I edited out his reply.
    Bob later dug out that reply (I strongly suspect he used his administrator's tools to do so) and reposted it and replied to it.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator
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    Say what? If you delete a post, it is deleted. I can't "repost" it, much less reply to it.

    I am disappointed in you mioque. I really don't care about your "story", but you accuse me and imply I did wrong.

    As I see it, YOU did wrong and now trying to shift blame. Com'on, lady, fess up and let's move on!! :D :D
     
  6. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    That is the plain sense reading. Any "plain sense" reading that doesn't account for the context isn't a "plain sense" reading. People misunderstand "literal interpretation" becuase of comments like yours. They fail to understand that "literal interpretation" uses the langauge as it was intended, where figures are figures and idioms are idioms, and so on.

    I bet if you would study those passages in depth and without a bias, you would change your mind. A lot of times, "in depth" studying mean parroting what Dr. So and so said about a passage no matter how ludicrous or far fetched it might be. Some of the eschatological passages are figurative, as the text so clearly indicates. But what is wrong is that the non-figurative ones are interpreted in a non-sensical fashion.
     
  7. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    That is the plain sense reading. Any "plain sense" reading that doesn't account for the context isn't a "plain sense" reading. People misunderstand "literal interpretation" becuase of comments like yours. They fail to understand that "literal interpretation" uses the langauge as it was intended, where figures are figures and idioms are idioms, and so on. </font>[/QUOTE]The unfortunate thing is that I believe most who subscribe to "plain sense" reading do not do what you have just described. If they did, there would be a lot less eisegesis.
     
  8. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows New Member

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    Larry,

    I bet if you would study those passages in depth and without a bias, you would change your mind. A lot of times, "in depth" studying mean parroting what Dr. So and so said about a passage no matter how ludicrous or far fetched it might be. Some of the eschatological passages are figurative, as the text so clearly indicates. But what is wrong is that the non-figurative ones are interpreted in a non-sensical fashion.

    Everyone has bias, from the conservatives to the liberals. While I generally avoid rank liberals I read a good mix of conservative and moderate scholars.

    And you're right that seeking the literal sense of scripture should involve seeking the sense of the text as it was written.

    But it has been my experience that most fundamentalist interpreters approach the text with more bias than do the moderates, looking for ways to validate the predetermined fundemantalist premill dispy position. Give them credit they ARE faithful to the literal reading of the text - but they seem to consider ONLY positions which comport with their view of inerrancy, not even considering that perhaps we have traditionally misinterpreted this or that passage by our presuppositions.

    And in fact I DID approach the scriptures with a bias, a bias towards the dispy position. But with more and more study I realized this was not what the text was likely saying. I feel like many literalists are not even willing to CONSIDER anything outside their view of inerrancy, always opting to somehow defend their position, despite compelling reasons that other possibilities should at least be considered.
     
  9. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    I find that different than my experience. I did not start with a firm commitment to dispensationalism. In fact, I didn't know much about it. But the more I have studied the Scripture, the more I am confused as to why anyone denies it. It makes absolutely no sense to me that someone would not be a dispensationalist. But that's just me.

    By the way, not all fundamentalists are premill dispensationalists. Historically, there have been fundamentalists that held other views.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    It's rather funny you should write such a thing because I went exactly the other way after reading all of Clarence Larkin's, C. H. MacIntosh's, and Chafer's books along with many others by Scofield and his gap theory stuff. I found it created many more questions than answers.

    As soon as one gets away from the message of scripture he gets into theologies which are not taught in scripture from a historical contextual point of view. If one takes a look at history over the past 500+ years he will notice the many theories that one would punch holes in today and laugh at. So along comes another theory every few years which seems to make sense until more holes come and another theory is invented.

    Even the dispensationalists have changed much of their position maing a changing theology while scripture has not. That is the very reason why it is so important to study scripture in light of its historical context rather than reading men who write theologies such as Darby.

    I find it hard to understand how anyone would believe much of what Darby wrote. I know there are many who would not agree with him who call themselves dispensationalists. But the roots of dispensationalism is in Darbyism and the writings of Darby.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    REading those guys, it's no wonder you are messed up. I have read very little of Chafer, and none of hte others.

    STudying Scripture in its historical context will, I believe, lead to dispensationalism. The roots of dispensationalism is in Scripture, not in Darby. Darby's name is often thrown out in hopes, I suppose, of distracting from the real issues.

    The arguments I hear most often against dispensationalism are based on misunderstanding, either of Scripture or of dispensationalism, and often both. But that's my experience. It may not be anyone else's, and that if fine with me.
     
  12. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    So are you saying you do not agree with some others who were the leaders in dispensationalism and yet call yourself a dispensationalist. How can you conveniently separate out what you agree and do not agree with calling yourself a dispensationalist. Are you saying the leadrs of disoensationalism did not study the Bible because you do not agree with them. The fact is that some of them were very godly men, just somewhat misled in their theology.

    Darby and many others who led the way in dispensationalism would very much disagree with you. To understand dispensationalism one must go back to its roots which lie in Darby, etc.

    What you are saying is very much like the modern-day Mormons. They are still Mormons but try to ignore Jospeh Smith. Or the Catholics that say they do not agree with the early church. You would not let them escape their history as easily as you divorce yourself from the early leaders of dispensationalism, would you?

    To claim to be a dispensationalist one cannnot ignore the roots of dispensationalism.

    I threw out Chafer, etc. a long time ago.

    In my opinion I have not found one systematic theology that agrees with scripture in 100 percent of the cases and answers all the questions. But the Bible in its historical context is always consistent and correct 100 percent of the time.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    There is a sioe qua non of dispensationalism, an irreducible minimum. That is what makes one a dispensationalist, not whether they parrot line for the line the individuals positions of teachers. Those men didn't agree with each other, which is exactly the same for every option (PD, NCT, CT ... which are all slight variations). No system is monolithic. The intramural differences between covenantalists are as great if not greater than the ones in dispensationalism. Some of those godly men were misled in their theology. So were others, like Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Augustine and a host of others. In fact, every one in church history but me has been mislead on their theology. How do I know? Because they don't agree with me ... Okay, I am just kidding, and I am sure you know that. Seriously, there are differences between all of us. I am quite sure I don't have everything right. In fact, I don't even know what all the questions are. Men will always be fallible.

    One is a dispensationalist when he holds to the basic tenets of dispensationalism. That is the key thing. They might disagree on the particulars, but I think Ryrie was right when he said dispensationalism's sine qua non is consistent use of normal hermeneutic (emphasis on consistent), fundamental distinction between Isreal and the Church, and the glory of God as the purpose of human history. When one holds to those three things, they are a dispensationalist.

    You continue to propound the nonsense that dispensationalism started with Darby. That dog won't hunt. It is simply untrue. The roots of dispensationalism, in a real sense, go all the way back to Eden where the hermeneutical foundation was laid. It is certainly testified to by Christ and the apostles. But even past the dispute, it can be found in varying degrees through church history.

    With respect to Mormons, I don't really care whether or not they claim Smith. The issue is "What do you believe right now?" That can be shown to be faulty. I don't need to go back to Smith or Young.

    Interesting that you are willing to pick and choose what parts of books and teachings you agree with but will not grant me the same liberty. That seems inconsistent. Did you really mean to be that way?
     
  14. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    Those men didn't agree with each other, which is exactly the same for every option (PD, NCT, CT ... which are all slight variations). No system is monolithic. The intramural differences between covenantalists are as great if not greater than the ones in dispensationalism.

    I would agree with you in many ways. That does make one right and the other wrong. I believe both are wrong. Because one is not a dispensationslist does not make him a coventant theologian. It is quite easy to study a particular sytematic theology looking for answers rather than did into scripture and let it speak for itself. But the problem arises when we try to synthesize scripture probelms when we do not know what scripture really teaches in light of its historical context before we do that. So often the historical context is different giving the appearance of a changing message when the message remains the same but the context is different.

    Seriously, there are differences between all of us. I am quite sure I don't have everything right. In fact, I don't even know what all the questions are. Men will always be fallible.

    I am quite confident not one person (including me) is absolutely correct 100 percent because if he were he would be God. But that keeps us in a good position (humble). That is all the more reason why not to adhere to a particular brand of systematic theology and adhere to scripture and study in light of its historical context then apply it. Scripture is our standard not a particular school of thought that keeps changing and getting modified.

    One is a dispensationalist when he holds to the basic tenets of dispensationalism. That is the key thing. They might disagree on the particulars, but I think Ryrie was right when he said dispensationalism's sine qua non is consistent use of normal hermeneutic (emphasis on consistent), fundamental distinction between Isreal and the Church, and the glory of God as the purpose of human history. When one holds to those three things, they are a dispensationalist.

    I would disagree with your theology on the basis of Phil. 3:2-4, "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh."

    I do not see a different salvation for Israel and the church. Salvation is in Jesus only.



    You continue to propound the nonsense that dispensationalism started with Darby. That dog won't hunt. It is simply untrue. The roots of dispensationalism, in a real sense, go all the way back to Eden where the hermeneutical foundation was laid.
    If you believe that then what is your support for dispensationalism especially in between the time of Eden and Darby? Certainly I know of no theologians who make the claim of being a dispensationalist during that same time.

    It is certainly testified to by Christ and the apostles. But even past the dispute, it can be found in varying degrees through church history.

    Could give a few examples of how it is testified by Christ?

    Interesting that you are willing to pick and choose what parts of books and teachings you agree with but will not grant me the same liberty. That seems inconsistent. Did you really mean to be that way?

    What books are you referring to? I am refering to the Bible not a theologian or systematic theology. Personally I spend little time reading systematic theology books but rather those books which shed light on the historical context of scripture. Every writing ever written lies in a historical context. Without a context it is meaningless.
     
  15. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
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    This doesn't make much sense. You say one is right and the other wrong, and then you say both are wrong.

    That is why I mentioned PD and NCT. These are newer versions of the two main positions. There are others, including some amalgamations.

    I agree.

    What do you think makes that a disagreement my theology? Dispensationalism teaches that salvation is through Christ alone in all ages. Some dispensationalists teach two ways of salvation. They are wrong. But that is not of the sine qua non of dispensationalism. This illustrates my point that many disagreements I hear are not really related to the issue.

    Claiming to be a dispensationalist and believing what dispensationalism believes are two different things. I made no claim for the former; only for the latter. The biblical evidence is clear and sufficient: God made promises to Israel as a nation that he will fulfill with Isreal as a nation. THe first century Jews expected that rightly, and Jesus confirmed it in numerous places. Dispensationalism like other areas of theology developed over time. There was no mature
    Christology under the crises hit. Other doctrines, including eschatology, developed similarly. That is why there was no development of dispensationalism through early church history. It wasn't a focus of discussion.

    There are a lot. Just read in the historical context and it becomes very clear. John 1 where grace and Law are separated. Places where Christ testified to judgment and blessing that would come on the nation of Israel after a time of apostasy, and many others.

    What books are you referring to? I am refering to the Bible not a theologian or systematic theology. Personally I spend little time reading systematic theology books but rather those books which shed light on the historical context of scripture. Every writing ever written lies in a historical context. Without a context it is meaningless.</font>[/QUOTE]My point is that you pick and choose which theologians you think are right. But you said I couldn't pick and choose which theologians are right when you said I couldn't be a dispensationalist without adhering to Larkin, Chafer, etc.

    Systematic theologies are valuable in the study of Scripture because they correlate the single system of truth that God has revealed. They should not be overlooked, nor should they be overly depended on.
     
  16. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    I'm enjoying the debate here!
    I just wanted to emphasize a subtile point about the study of theology brought up here.
    Often we read on the BB about the inadequacies of "secular science" because if doesn't get things right all the time.
    Notice "Theology" itself is a science that has developed over time and is still working out the bugs in the "system"..
    *****

    Perhaps over-ruling the "Plain Sense" quote is the rule of interpretation offered by The Westminster Confession of Faith (1:9) which states:
    "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly."

    a. 2 Pet. 1:20–21; Acts 15:15–16.

    Rob
     
  17. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    :D I can't believe I missed this. Great stuff Larry. [​IMG]
     
  18. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    Some dispensationalists teach two ways of salvation. They are wrong.

    Just read in the historical context and it becomes very clear. John 1 where grace and Law are separated. Places where Christ testified to judgment and blessing that would come on the nation of Israel after a time of apostasy, and many others.

    So are you saying you believe in two dispensations? I do not agree with that. But I do agree with God's plan.

    The big question often is if one dispensation ends and another starts what does one do with Daniel?
     
  19. OldRegular

    OldRegular Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with you completely. I have always considered dispensationalism an elitist philosophy, though its eschatology has great appeal to many.

    If a new believer and student of Scripture were to begin his study using a plain ‘text’ Bible [or a Bible with references and a concordance only; no study notes] he would find no mention of the seven dispensations as described by dispensationalists and no clear distinction or teaching as to when an old dispensation ends or a new dispensation starts. In fact he would not find the word dispensation mentioned in the Old Testament. For that matter he could be an learned student of Scripture and, if he had not been exposed to the Darby/Scofield system of interpretation, I believe that he would be unable to isolate any such distinct dispensations. The seven dispensations [Ryrie, [i[Dispensationalism[/i], page 51ff] and the period of time associated with each are listed below. Keep in mind that, according to Scofield, a dispensation is “a period of time during which man is tested in respect to his obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God”.

    1. Innocence, extended from creation until the fall.
    2. Conscience, extended from the fall until the flood.
    3. Civil Government, extended from the flood until the call of Abraham.
    4. Promise, extended from the call of Abraham until Mount. Sinai.
    5. Law, extended from Mount. Sinai until Jesus Christ.
    6. Grace, extended from Pentecost until the “Rapture”.
    7. Millennium.


    Assume that our new believer and student of Scripture begins reading in Genesis. What does he find? He reads the creation story, of Adam and Eve, and of God’s command and promise [Genesis 2:16,17] concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Indeed this is a period of time during which man is tested, and our student sees the disobedience of Adam and Eve. They failed the test. Now does he read of the institution of a dispensation of conscience in which man will once again be tested. No! man has been tested and has failed! Rather he reads [Genesis 3] of the promise of God, that the seed of Eve will bruise the head of [destroy?] the Tempter. Later, as he reads the New Testament, the student may come to understand that this promised seed of Eve is none other than the incarnate Son of God and that the defeat of Satan the Tempter and the redemption of “whosoever will” is accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Does he read next of a second test that fallen man must meet? No! he will only read of the downward spiral of mankind into sin until God’s judgment is executed in the universal flood. However, one man, Noah, will find grace in the eyes of God [Genesis 6]. Noah believed God, obeyed God, built an ark, and was saved from destruction. Now, for the first time, our student reads of a Covenant. An everlasting Covenant made with Noah and his descendants, that is all mankind [Genesis 9]. A promise, in effect, that God would never again destroy the earth with flood. Notice that this Covenant is instituted by God [as are all His Covenants] and is unconditional. Nowhere is there any mention of a new test that man must pass, nowhere any indication of a dispensation of civil government. In fact, there is little more, if any, indication of government after the flood than before.

    Now our student reads of another man who finds grace in the eyes of God, a pagan man, Abram. [The Old Testament Scripture does not mention grace relative to Abraham, yet the mere fact that God called a man out of paganism constitutes grace.] He reads again that God establishes another Covenant, a unilateral Covenant, for all of God’s Covenants are unilateral. Is the Covenant unconditional? Not at all, the two unconditional Covenants are the promise of a redeemer [Genesis 3:15] and the promise not to destroy the earth again by flood. . Even though God graciously initiated and established this Covenant, Scripture teaches that “Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him” [Genesis 12:4] and later teaches that “he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” [Genesis 15:6]. The belief of Abraham was not mere intellectual assent but a faith that resulted in obedience. The Covenant was conditional on Abraham’s obedience. God in His grace reckoned Abraham’s faith for righteousness.

    The above is a Covenant of Promise, not a dispensation of promise. There is no indication of any new way in which all of mankind is tested since the Covenant is only for Abraham and his seed. However this Covenant becomes universal in scope with the advent of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul writes:

    Galatians 3:29 [KJV] And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    As our student continues to read he learns of the sojourn of Israel in Egypt, of God’s deliverance of His people and of the journey to Mount Sinai. At Sinai God renews the Covenant of Promise with the children of Israel with additional conditions, conditions designed to enable His people to confront the paganism that surrounded them. The fruits of obedience are:

    Exodus 19:5 [KJV] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:

    There are those dispensationalists who contend that the Israelites foolishly gave up faith and promise at Sinai in exchange for the Law. Such a claim is, in itself, foolish. God does not negotiate Covenants, man does not bargain with God. God unilaterally institutes Covenants. The Israelites had no choice in the institution of the Law. Their choice was obedience rooted in faith or disobedience rooted in unbelief.

    Once again the question must be asked, is there a dispensation of law? And the answer must be a resounding, No! The law at Sinai is given to the Israelites. Nothing is said about the Gentiles. The Gentiles knew nothing of the Law of Moses just as they knew nothing of the Promise to Abraham. Yet a new dispensation was presumably for all mankind. [Paul addresses the Gentiles responsibility before God in Chapters 1&2 of Romans.]

    Our student reads of the conquest of Canaan, of the apostasy of Israel, of the establishment of the kingdom, and the “man after God’s own heart”, David [1 Samuel 13.14]. He reads of God’s promise [Covenant] to David and his descendants regarding an everlasting kingdom, not a kingdom lasting only 1000 years [2 Samuel 7:4-17]. He will later come to see this promise fulfilled in the Kingdom of the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, “of the house and lineage of David” [Luke 2:4]. And finally he will read of the New Covenant from the prophecy of Jeremiah.

    Jeremiah 31:31-34 [KJV]
    31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
    32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
    33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

    Unlike the Covenant at Sinai where God’s moral law was written on tablets of stone, under the New Covenant God will write His laws on the heart of man. When our student comes to the difficult Book of Daniel he will see once again the establishment of an everlasting kingdom, not a 1000 year kingdom [Daniel 7:27].


    When the student reads the Gospels he will understand that the New Covenant is the fruition of the promise in Eden and is that Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ and sealed by His blood and is extended to “Whosoever will”. When he reads John 3:16 he will understand that Jesus Christ came to provide salvation for all mankind who would believe, not throw off the yoke of Rome and offer some mythical earthly kingdom to the Jews, reestablishing the glory of David's kingdom.

    No mention throughout of different dispensations and different tests. He reads of only only one test that man failed and then he reads of God working in history through His chosen vessel, Israel, to bring to fruition His promise in Eden. Consequently, I believe that the dispensational system of Biblical interpretation by its nature and structure is elitist. It is not indicated by a straightforward reading and interpretation of the Bible. Rather indoctrination or training by someone or something else is required before one can what? understand it, find it, I don’t know! Charles C. Ryrie in his book Dispensationalism [page 52], inadvertently perhaps, admits such when he writes “The average dispensationalist has been SCHOOLED to designate the second economy as Conscience.” Thus the remarks above regarding the influence of the Scofield Bible on the spread of Dispensationalism. [Many people who use the SRB do not distinguish between the inspired text and Scofield’s notes. As John Newport comments in The Lion and the Lamb [page 100] “It is not surprising that some persons find it difficult to remember whether they had read something in the text or at the bottom of the page in the notes.”]

    I believe it is clear that dispensationalism is an unnatural system of interpretation and that its adherents must be indoctrinated in its intricacies. It does not follow from a natural reading of Scripture. Darby and Scofield did not “Rightly Divide The Word” they “splintered” it.
     
  20. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards <img src=/Ed.gif>

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    Amen, Brother Pastor Larry -- Preach it ! [​IMG]
     
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