Future For Israel and Covenant Theology

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I think what Alexander is responding to comes from the great errors of dispensationalism. But the historic reformed view is not that, and that is outright rejected by Scripture. No one here is advocating the dispensational view.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I am not sure how detailed our answers can really be at this point. Israel was historically identifiable as a nation. As a nation they were cut off from God's covenant. Some day they will be grafted back in to that covenant in a form that is identifiable as a nation of Israel. It seems to me that Romans 11 is not merely about ethnicity. In Paul's own day there was a remnant according to the election of grace. But that remnant represented a subset of the entity which by and large had been cut off (and will one day yet be grafted in again). As is the case so much with prophecy, I don't think we will fully be able to anticipate just what this will look like until it happens. But the idea that it will have a national, and not merely ethnical component seems to me strongly supported from Romans 11 as well as many Old Testament passages.

That's all fair. My only rebuttal would be that many Christians today identify the Israeli state as "the nation of Israel" and that its "restoration" is prophetic. So if we are to judge these claims as to this specific nation then the questions I've raised do become relevant.

[I should clarify that here I am specifically referring to Dispensationalists whereas everwhere else I have not necessarily been speaking only of them. See my post below this.]
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Well I reject that reading of the verse, as did Calvin.

But assuming it does refer to the ethnic Jews of Paul's time we still have the problem of who they are today. Are all who call themselves Jews today direct descendants of the Jews of Christ's time? I don't think so.

Might not matter too much, for even OT Israel consisted of a "mixed multitude."
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I think what Alexander is responding to comes from the great errors of dispensationalism. But the historic reformed view is not that, and that is outright rejected by Scripture. No one here is advocating the dispensational view.

I haven't said anyone here is advocating the Dispensational view. My argument is that, broadly speaking, the Dispensational outlook has infiltrated conservative Christianity. This doesn't necessarily manifest itself in outright Dispensationalism but I believe it does manifest itself in a way which gives spiritual significance to the Israeli state.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
The Supreme Court of Israel, if I recall correctly, requires that you have some Jewish blood, likely from the mother's side. Now, is this the real Jewish blood of Moses' day? I have no idea. But neither is it a relative free-for-all. It is understood in secular and religious circles that there are identifiable criteria.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I haven't said anyone here is advocating the Dispensational view. My argument is that, broadly speaking, the Dispensational outlook has infiltrated conservative Christianity. This doesn't necessarily manifest itself in outright Dispensationalism but I believe it does manifest itself in a way which gives spiritual significance to the Israeli state.

Yes, but the historic reformed view, the historic puritan view that is being espoused by those interacting with you is prior to dispensationalism. In all errors there are bits of truth. Let's deal with the text of Scripture and interact with that instead of Israeli state things. This is to commit eisegesis instead of exegesis, which is the major problem with how people interpret Romans 11:25-26 today. We need to stop bringing externals to the text, and let the text speak and believe what it says.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Yes, but the historic reformed view, the historic puritan view that is being espoused by those interacting with you is prior to dispensationalism. In all errors there are bits of truth. Let's deal with the text of Scripture and interact with that instead of Israeli state things. This is to commit eisegesis instead of exegesis, which is the major problem with how people interpret Romans 11:25-26 today. We need to stop bringing externals to the text, and let the text speak and believe what it says.

Ok I follow you now. I still think much of what I've said is also interacting with that though. People here have said there will be a conversion of the Jews as a nation and I've asked what that might look like. People are sure this is going to happen so would that not mean Scripture gives us an idea of how that might look when it does? Or that people who believe it will happen might have an idea themselves? I've specifically addressed the idea that the Israeli state is a fulfilment of this prophecy. Now I'm happy to accept that that is not the historic Reformed view. So I would ask: can you tell me how that historic view differs?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
So I would ask: can you tell me how that historic view differs?

The historic Reformed view says the Jews will convert en masse.

Modern premillennialism says they will do so and also receive the land-promises.

That's the main difference. The historic Reformed view doesn't require the land promise.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
My tentative conclusion about Israel: the existence of the modern-state of Israel offers prima facie evidence that God is faithful to his promise to regather them. However, I understand that the direct Scriptural evidence about the Israeli state is scanty, so I leave it at that.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
You say "possible", I say "necessary".
I used the term I did because there is variation re how Israel is interpreted by Reformed theologians, yet within a clear covenantal framework.
What is your definition of "Israel"? You can't simply say "elect Israel" as that can mean at least two different things. It can mean the elect nation of Israel (ethnic)
The nature of the question was broad hence my comment was broad. I was simply making the point we cannot discuss ethnic Israel without also discussing sovereign election and its foundation - covenant theology.
We are discussing ethnic Israel.
Again, definitions are needed. Do you mean ethnic Israel specifically the elect, or ethnic Israel including the non elect. I argue God does not have a specific purpose for non elect ethnic Israel, except judgment for sin.

It seems to me we can gleam these summary points from Rom 9-11:
  • God will preserve a remnant of ethnic Israel. Rom 9-10 "for the sake of the fathers"
  • God has not rejected the people he foreknew. This word foreknew is clearly sovereign election
  • Rom 11:5 is an excellent summary "So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace"
I do believe there can be flexibility of interpretation around this but to my mind these are the key points.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you mean ethnic Israel specifically the elect, or ethnic Israel including the non elect. I argue God does not have a specific purpose for non elect ethnic Israel, except judgment for sin.
If I meant elect only that is what I would have said. Elect does not equal ethnic. Now you can argue that it is only a subset of ethnic Israel but don't try to redefine things.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
If I meant elect only that is what I would have said. Elect does not equal ethnic. Now you can argue that it is only a subset of ethnic Israel but don't try to redefine things.
It is relevant because it determines if one is Reformed or not. Eg, if you talk about ethnic Israel without qualification, you open the door to dispensationalism. From a Reformed perspective you cannot leave election out of the equation.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
It is relevant because it determines if one is Reformed or not. Eg, if you talk about ethnic Israel without qualification, you open the door to dispensationalism. From a Reformed perspective you cannot leave election out of the equation.
Of course, if you are going to say that you also have to qualify what you mean by dispensationalism. I honestly think, from what I see on this board, that there are major caricatures of dispensationalism that don't actually describe 90% of dispensationalists.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Of course, if you are going to say that you also have to qualify what you mean by dispensationalism. I honestly think, from what I see on this board, that there are major caricatures of dispensationalism that don't actually describe 90% of dispensationalists.
There could be some caricatures. And there could be some ignorance and mean-spiritedness in connection to the topic. But more than a few folk of the membership have first-hand experience in dispensational-oriented churches. Many have experience of this teaching, and the system that goes with it; and some have done that teaching themselves.

Here's a suggestion: you could give out a source that would give anyone who exchanges ideas with you the basis of your own definition and description of what "90% of dispensationalists" believe and practice in your judgment. That way, either people will conform to that definition when engaging; or else will state where their own definition comes from.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
There could be some caricatures. And there could be some ignorance and mean-spiritedness in connection to the topic. But more than a few folk of the membership have first-hand experience in dispensational-oriented churches. Many have experience of this teaching, and the system that goes with it; and some have done that teaching themselves.

Here's a suggestion: you could give out a source that would give anyone who exchanges ideas with you the basis of your own definition and description of what "90% of dispensationalists" believe and practice in your judgment. That way, either people will conform to that definition when engaging; or else will state where their own definition comes from.
Dispensationalism simply recognizes that God interacts with humanity in different ways in different times. Everyone, even those who are in Covenant Theology, recognize and support this.

Dispensationalism in of itself is not wrong. The extremes that people take it to, however, are. But the same can be said of Covenant Theology.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Dispensationalism simply recognizes that God interacts with humanity in different ways in different times. Everyone, even those who are in Covenant Theology, recognize and support this.

Dispensationalism in of itself is not wrong. The extremes that people take it to, however, are. But the same can be said of Covenant Theology.
David,
If what you say here is true, there is no meaningful difference between covenant theology and dispensationalism. That's simply not the case. I think you should study this out some more. I grew up in a church where the old folks carried Scofield bibles and the young folks read Left Behind. I have rejected dispensationalism and embraced covenant theology. They are different theologies.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
David,
If what you say here is true, there is no meaningful difference between covenant theology and dispensationalism. That's simply not the case. I think you should study this out some more. I grew up in a church where the old folks carried Scofield bibles and the young folks read Left Behind. I have rejected dispensationalism and embraced covenant theology. They are different theologies.
They are different hermeneutic methods, yes. The MAIN differences are how they see Israel, the church, and the end times. You have to accept parts of both to be biblical. You cannot honestly say there are no facets of dispensationalism that are correct. Otherwise, we would still be offering sacrifices today, wouldn't we?

On the other hand, Covenant Theology taken to an extreme gets you things that are not found in Scripture such as infant baptism which I reject. It has to be a blending of the two.

That's why I think it is ridiculous when people here throw John MacArthur under the bus because he isn't "covenantal" and they try to paint him with a Dispensational brush that is on the extreme side of dispensationalism. I've even seen people say MacArthur isn't reformed which is just utterly ridiculous.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
For the record, I grew up in Dispensationalism and what I often see described here doesn't describe anything like I have seen.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
They are different hermeneutic methods, yes. The MAIN differences are how they see Israel, the church, and the end times. You have to accept parts of both to be biblical. You cannot honestly say there are no facets of dispensationalism that are correct. Otherwise, we would still be offering sacrifices today, wouldn't we?

On the other hand, Covenant Theology taken to an extreme gets you things that are not found in Scripture such as infant baptism which I reject. It has to be a blending of the two.

That's why I think it is ridiculous when people here throw John MacArthur under the bus because he isn't "covenantal" and they try to paint him with a Dispensational brush that is on the extreme side of dispensationalism. I've even seen people say MacArthur isn't reformed which is just utterly ridiculous.
Have you read anything on covenant theology? You appear to be the one making and burning straw men.

What I have noticed...
Dispensationalists, it seems, skip over Hebrews; prog dispensationalists have read it but don't know what to do with it; Covenant theologians read it and take it seriously.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I'll be a middle of the road voice. No one is an old school dispensationalist today. No one of note, anyway. Whenever I tell people that maybe the new creation won't be a Platonic paradise and perhaps God has a future for Israel, I am met with, "Oh, you must believe in blood moons and pray for the Red Heifer."

Sigh.

I remember when I first became a premillennialist I had almost the first two chapters of Hebrews memorized. So there's that. I also read Hebrew every morning.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Here's a suggestion: you could give out a source that would give anyone who exchanges ideas with you the basis of your own definition and description of what "90% of dispensationalists" believe and practice in your judgment.

I know you were addressing him but it was something I was thinking of. The following two books are the best on the topic (and contain critical essays from Reformed scholars as well).

https://www.amazon.com/Continuity-D...nuity+and+discontinuity&qid=1582252580&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Dispensation...efix=dispensationalism+isreal+,aps,192&sr=8-1

The best dispensational blogger is Dr Paul Henebury. He brings more to the table than anyone else.

https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
I'll be a middle of the road voice. No one is an old school dispensationalist today. No one of note, anyway. Whenever I tell people that maybe the new creation won't be a Platonic paradise and perhaps God has a future for Israel, I am met with, "Oh, you must believe in blood moons and pray for the Red Heifer."

Sigh.
That's exactly what I mean by caricature. I am middle of the road as well.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
They are different hermeneutic methods, yes. The MAIN differences are how they see Israel, the church, and the end times. You have to accept parts of both to be biblical. You cannot honestly say there are no facets of dispensationalism that are correct. Otherwise, we would still be offering sacrifices today, wouldn't we?

On the other hand, Covenant Theology taken to an extreme gets you things that are not found in Scripture such as infant baptism which I reject. It has to be a blending of the two.

That's why I think it is ridiculous when people here throw John MacArthur under the bus because he isn't "covenantal" and they try to paint him with a Dispensational brush that is on the extreme side of dispensationalism. I've even seen people say MacArthur isn't reformed which is just utterly ridiculous.

From what I've read on the subject there are indeed some Dispensationalists who believe sacrifices will be offered again at some point!

Yes of course there is nuance and difference of opinion in Dispensationalism. But to reduce Dispensationalism to "God dealing with people in different ways at different times" is, I'm sorry, absurd. Yes the Reformed have used the term "dispensation" to refer to periods in redemptive history. But Dispensationalism (capital D) is a specific interpretation of Scripture that goes a lot further than merely saying God deals with people in different ways at different times. It reinterprets the very nature of salvation and produces at least two separate streams of redemption (for the Jews on the one hand and Christians on the other). And this isn't even touching on many of the distinctive ideas and doctrines which have sprung up in the broad Dispensationalist camp over the years.

I don't claim to be anything like an expert on Dispensationalism. As it relates to this discussion we're talking about how Christians have interpreted the founding of the Israeli state in 1948. I think I can quite safely say that Dispensationalists, generally, have interpreted this founding as part of God's redemptive plan for Jewry and that Christians are obligated to support it. This is not a caricature or a fringe opinion. This view of the Israeli state is on full display throughout the evangelical world today- Dispensational church or not.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Yes of course there is nuance and difference of opinion in Dispensationalism. But to reduce Dispensationalism to "God dealing with people in different ways at different times" is, I'm sorry, absurd.

Not really. The essence of old-school dispensationalism (but not progressive) is that God can't deal with the church and Israel at the same time.
I don't claim to be anything like an expert on Dispensationalism.

But yet you feel free to say that our interpretations of dispensatioanlism, which are based on analyzing the top monographs, are absurd.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
It reinterprets the very nature of salvation and produces at least two separate streams of redemption (for the Jews on the one hand and Christians on the other).
Again, this is the caricature and only the fringes of dispensationalism and not the dispensational norm. Even Dallas Theological, one of the foremost dispensational educational institutions, teach there is only one way of salvation for both Jew and Christian.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Most modern Dispensationalists have abandoned the excesses, it's true. But what holds them still in the system is they consider it ultimately problematic to allow that God's faithfulness to Israel could include anything besides a flatly early, physical, and literal fulfillment of the OT promises, such as land, kingdoms, millennial reigns, physical temples and sacrifices, etc.

One can appreciate their desire for fidelity to God's Word. The preeminent weakness of the entire system, however, is the new testament's use of the old; or what we could call the Apostolic hermeneutic. They just didn't read the OT like a the dispensationalist does.

That issue was what pulled me out of dispensationalism in the end, after a bachelor's and a master's in biblical studies from a dispensational institution (and requisite readings from Ryrie; I've also argued with the aforementioned Paul Henebury on dispensational forums). In truth, I would say the individuals who have directly impacted my spiritual life the most have been dispensationalists, so no hate from me here.

One old professor who I loved, a Dallas grad, told us that the future sacrifices would just be "memorials" to the past work of Christ. I respected the guy very much, but found that strange. I love them, but they're wrong.
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
however, is the new testament's use of the old; or what we could call the Apostolic hermeneutic. They just didn't read the OT like a the dispensationalist does.

I think it is more ambiguous than that. We simply don't have a complete pre-interpreted apostolic guide of every OT verse. And some OT passages do point to a literal fulfillment (Isaiah 53, for example).
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think it is more ambiguous than that. We simply don't have a complete pre-interpreted apostolic guide of every OT verse. And some OT passages do point to a literal fulfillment (Isaiah 53, for example).
No, we certainly don't. And there's room for ambiguity and disagreement. But the point still stands. A dispensationalist simply would not use Joel the way Peter uses Joel. A dispensationalist (classic now) would not speak of the kingdom the way Acts speaks of the kingdom. Et al. This is why dispensationalism had undergone so many modifications.

Nor am I saying a fulfillment can't be literal. I tend to think our categories are somewhat ill-suited to the way the language and concepts actually work, but I'm not smart enough to develop a positive presentation of this. Maybe someone else has and I just haven't read it yet.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
They are different hermeneutic methods, yes. The MAIN differences are how they see Israel, the church, and the end times. You have to accept parts of both to be biblical. You cannot honestly say there are no facets of dispensationalism that are correct. Otherwise, we would still be offering sacrifices today, wouldn't we?
The only people I know of who argue for a continuation of animal sacrifice are dispensationalists. Dispensationalism doesn't really teach that God deals differently in different ages. It teaches that God deals differently with different people groups. Jews have one way of worshipping, and gentiles have another; God has one plan for Jews, and another plan for gentiles.

Covenant theology, on the other hand, teaches that God has one covenant people, and that his way of dealing with that one people differs in different ages.
 
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