How many People of God?

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Goodcheer68

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am just sort of thinking out loud and trying to get a clearer foundation to formulate some arguments. So forgive my lack of an exact point. I'm just looking for clarification right now.


I was curious how do dispensationalist classify the believers before Abraham? It would seem in order to be consistant in their beliefs, that if ethnic Israel are God's chosen people, both couldn't just fall under OT saints? They would still have to break them into two groups right? Then ultimately dispensationalist make 3 groups of God's people; 1. pre-Abraham believers, 2. Abraham and ethnic Israel, and 3. NT Church. The pre-Abraham believers I guess would then have to have the same status as the NT Church compared to ethnic Israel in their eyes- right?
 

Weston Stoler

Puritan Board Sophomore
Growing up in an Ultra dispensational church they rationalized that they where simply saved in another dispensation.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am just sort of thinking out loud and trying to get a clearer foundation to formulate some arguments. So forgive my lack of an exact point. I'm just looking for clarification right now.


I was curious how do dispensationalist classify the believers before Abraham? It would seem in order to be consistant in their beliefs, that if ethnic Israel are God's chosen people, both couldn't just fall under OT saints? They would still have to break them into two groups right? Then ultimately dispensationalist make 3 groups of God's people; 1. pre-Abraham believers, 2. Abraham and ethnic Israel, and 3. NT Church. The pre-Abraham believers I guess would then have to have the same status as the NT Church compared to ethnic Israel in their eyes- right?

Well, this kind of question largely depends on which kind of dispensationalist you are talking to. Most dispensationalists (from an academic standpoint, anyway) since at least the 50's have stated that all in every dispensation are saved by grace through faith. All of the one's I've read would simply classify them as OT saints. I'm not sure if a pre-Abraham distinction would be strictly held to, but you do have a point since there was no Israel prior to that.

There are actually more groups than you have listed. I'm not sure about some of the progressives like Bock, but basically dispensationalists consider the church to exist between Pentecost and the rapture. So the "tribulation saints" are not part of the church either.

Edit: Now, those who hold to something like Scofield's seven dispensation scheme divide up redemptive history into several different dispensations which all include a test which man fails, thus emphasizing man's depravity. You may know this already, but if not, they are as follows.

Innocence (pre-fall)
Conscience or Moral Responsibility
Human Government (post-flood)
Promise (Gen 12--Abraham)
Law (Sinai)
Church
Kingdom

(Although one would think there would be another dispensation for eternity, evidently none was included because Scofield's criteria for a dispensation included a "test" and in eternity there is no test.)

Note that 5 of the dispensations are in the OT and that 4 are in Genesis. But as noted earlier, I don't know that they would emphasize any difference in the way that you are asking about unless it has to do with the content of faith (or light) in any particular dispensation. And Progressive Dispensationalists as well as some who would otherwise largely agree with Ryrie, Walvoord et.al. do not emphasize Scofield's dispensations either because they don't think they're accurate or because they don't find them to be helpful, particularly the "test" aspect. They prefer instead to simply focus on the covenants.

With all dispensationalists, the emphasis is on a distinction between the church and Israel because of their understanding of the Abrahamic and Davidic (and Palestinian/Land if they see it as separate) covenants, aspects of which in their view have yet to be fulfilled. In their view they cannot be fulfilled by the church and must be fulfilled by Israel. Hence, the need for the church to be raptured prior to the tribulation so God can go back to dealing with Israel.

Unlike some in the contemporary Reformed camp (or even the non-dispensational camp,) I don't think that ethnic Israel has been done away with. Like many historic/classical Postmils and Premils, my current view is that will be a restoration and conversion of Israel prior to the Last Judgment. But I think that a pretrib rapture, a sharp distinction b/w the Church and Israel and other things can't be supported biblically and have serious implications for soteriology, ethics, sanctification (esp. the issue of the ongoing role of the law) ecclesiology, etc. (What you seem to be getting at in your post is ecclesiology and soteriology.) Depending on which variety of dispensationalism is in view the problems can be more or less serious, but the above listed problems with the possible exception of soteriology in my opinion are present with all of them.

Prior to about two years ago, I really didn't know much about dispensationalism, never having really studied it first hand and never having been in a church that taught dispensationalism. Around that time I became a convinced premil and wanted to know what the differences between historic and disp. premil were. I picked up Ryrie's Dispensationalism Today in Goodwill and got a great deal on the Scofield Study Bible III on e-Bay, both of which gave me a much better understanding about what they teach. This helped significantly in understanding what they believe and why they believe it. If one wants to know what a group believes, it's best to read primary sources instead of merely relying on secondary sources from those in our camp. The latter are invaluable, but some can be just about worthless at times if they misrepresent the teaching of those outside of our camp. If one wants to know what Baptists believe, read Baptists. Read Presbyterians to know what they believe. Read RC documents if you really want to get a firm grip on what they believe, etc.

I actually like reading the Scofield because I like the NKJV and in my opinion it has the best NKJV text block available. That's why I got it. Most others have a font that is either too small for me or are way too large. Too bad it's not the Spurgeon Study Bible. :banghead:

---------- Post added at 07:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:22 PM ----------

Growing up in an Ultra dispensational church they rationalized that they where simply saved in another dispensation.

When you refer to ultra-dispensational, do you simply mean that they had a strong dispensational emphasis? Ultra-dispensationalism is usually understood to describe those who think that the church started some time after Acts 2, with some arguing for Mid-Acts, others for Acts 28 and still others arguing that only the Pastoral epistles apply to the church! Mainstream Dispenationalism holds that the church began at Pentecost.
 
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