Is Dispensationalism (John Mcarthur) reason to leave an otherwise sound church?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by jamesinflorida, Jan 5, 2010.

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  1. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    I attend a non-denominational church that is John MacArthur East. We have pastor and teachers from his seminary and teach verse by verse through the bible. It wan't until we hit Matthew 24 that the depth of the dispensationalist bent hit me in full. Is this something that I should leave the fellowship over? It is stated as part of the doctrinal beliefs and I have great regard for McArthur. Even RC Sproul has said not to break fellowship over this matter from his pulpit as I was lucky enough to ask him personally. But, the more I study this vis-a-vis classic Amil, the more it irritates me to hear this twisted supposed literal interpretation of scripture. It makes me feel that we Christians in this eschatology get to avoid those sufferings which have been suffered by all Believers throughout history. Heh, I am no hero, I got over that in Vietnam, but the more I study (on my own) the worse I feel. Any thoughts on how to reconcile this? Plus, I get the feeling through some of the Elders I speak with that they have no interest in "debating" or considering explaining amil. Sort of a take it or leave it. Thoughts? Input please.
  2. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If there is not a local covenantal church that preaches well, then stay. If one is available, I would leave and join it. Dispensationalism vs. Covenant Theology touches alot more than just eschatology. Personally I do not think a proper view of the Law, sanctification, the sacraments, or covenants can be achieved without covenant theology.

    Just my two cents.
  3. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: a lot would depend on what your other options are.
  4. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't think I could do it. I know everybody has to decide what are essentials and what are non essentials and where to draw the line, and at least they are Calvinists, but to me dispensationalism is a very serious error.
  5. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    I love the brothers and sisters and they all high quality believers most of whom were brought to our church because of dispositve preaching. We don't live in the eschatology as, say a Hagee or LaHaydoing ther ripped from the headlines, who is the anti Christ this month. But I satisfied myself having seen the destruction of the Temple, the installation of thr Arabs on the mount , Jesus saying It is finished and seeing the Arch of Titus in Rome just outside the forum showing the temple artifacts the Romans brought as plunder, including the Jews they enslaved to build the colosium and the million Jews they murdered. Then the diaspora so that God made clear that temple worship was ended by the killing of Jesus, once for time. It does grevous injury to the all stoning sacrafice if a new temple and animal sacrafice would be imposed again.
  6. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    First, please click on the Signature Requirements link at the bottom of this post and establish your signature. Thank you.

    Second, do you lean more towards being a Baptist or Presbyterian? You state that your church is John MacArthur East. Taken on face value that would mean your church is baptistic and practices believers-only baptism. In your profile you state that you subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Presbyterian confession, which teaches infant baptism. Are you more Baptist or Presbyterian in your convictions? That will help determine where you should fellowship if you leave your current church.

    I counsel you to proceed slowly. If your pastor teaches the doctrines of grace, take your time in deciding on your next step. I understand the problem you have with dispensational theology. I'm right there with you. The reason I caution you to proceed slowly is so you don't jump from the frying pan into the fire. Be deliberate in evaluating other churches.
  7. MMasztal

    MMasztal Puritan Board Sophomore

    For me it would depend on how much emphasis the pastor places on Dispensational eschatology. If it's in a sermon every month then he may be a closet prophecy nut. In that case I'd be gone.

    But in 23 years of attending church on a regular basis, I can't recall any eschatological sermons, but do recall spending close to a year going through Revelation in Sunday School under my pastor, John Fesko, who is now teaching at WSC.

    It may be a fault of mine, but I have little interest in doing in-depth study of eschatology and declare myself a pan-millenialist (from a comment a Baptist pastor patient once made to me).
  8. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    My initial position would be contrary to what I know many here would say. I would only join with a non-denominational church if no reformed, confessional, presbyterian church were available. (Forgive me my baptist brothers, but I am Presbyterian by conviction of scripture ....) so saying "non-denominational" would be sufficient. I would also draw the line at non-confessional (and one of the reformed confessions at that.)

    If you have actually joined the church, I would at least talk with the elders (if there are such) and explain that I agree with those denominations that have found dispensational theology error ... with grace and humility. If they refuse to bless your going after hearing your view, then you might need to leave without blessing, but I would not attend a Dispensational church long term if there is a choice.
  9. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    Hi and welcome to the Puritan Board. I was just curious what exactly you mean when you say that the church is dispensational? I know the church holds to a premil position, but are you saying that the church is teaching dispensational premil? I'm wondering if you could elaborate, because I actually know Pastor Kreloff and his views, and I'm a little confused by what was said above. From what I know of him, I believe he teaches historic premil and not dispensationalism. I would appreciate some more information, thanks!
  10. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    My situation is vaguely similar. My church is a small MacArthurite church in Nor Cal. This is the only church with a high view of Scripture in the area, and regardless of what doctrinal points I might disagree with, Christ is proclaimed above anything else. If there was a Reformed alternative in the area I would consider attending IF Christ was proclaimed as He is here. I would suggest a similar approach. I don't give a rip if a church holds to more Reformed doctrinal points if it doesn't seek to glorify Christ in everything it does with a proper heart.
  11. TrueConvert

    TrueConvert Puritan Board Freshman

    It's definitely a tough decision. As you can see from my signature, I've moved on from a nondenom McCartherite Church as well. The reason for me though was that Christ was not exalted every week, and that the Gospel was not central. There was also zero OT teaching/preaching due largely to the dispensational bent. I love my brothers who are at the Church stil, but to say that "Christ is ONE theme in Scripture, but the OVERARCHING theme of all of Scripture is God's glory" to explain why Christ isn't preached week in and week out, was one of many straws that kept my family from being able to stay. No Gospel ='d in our case imperative-laden sermons; despair w/ no hope given for believers OR non believers, non Biblical theology meant that small, bite-size portions of text were over examined with no regard for the larger context (ie THE BIBLE as a whole). This experience that we had may be anomalous, and I pray it is. Because I wanted to hear Christ preached in every sermon, I was told I have a low view of Scripture.....I just couldn't remain where Christ was not the center (intentionally)............
  12. Ne Oublie

    Ne Oublie Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just to make sure, Dispensationalism is not just about Eschatology, it is how one sees and reads the scripture as a whole and how God works in different times with his people. So, how we interpret the scriptures is the key here.
    Dispensationalism has different dispensations, too. In the first AEON was the Classical dispensation of Dispensationalism, the second 1000 years was the Modern dispensation of Dispensationalism,
    and now in these end times it is the Progressive dispensation of Dispensationalism and these are the major dispensations in Dispensationalism. The latter has moved even closer toward the Covenant Theology side. But not there yet. That could be in the Tribulation period.

    I would appreciate a literal interpretation of this post please. If even possible.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    First, consider the vows you have taken there if you are a member.

    If you have come to understand covenant theology, as opposed to dispensationalism, and are convicted the former is biblical, this is an over-arching doctrinal difference and you would have grounds to change churches. If you can respectfully articulate that, it can be understood by both your former and new church.

    You want to go through the polity process and leave with their permission, understanding and blessing, if possible.

    Dr MacArthur is right on many things, and even describes himself as a "leaky" dispensationalist because more-and-more he is seeing the unified plan of redemption through the whole of Scripture.
  14. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    Yvonne: I would respectfully request that no pastor's names be used, to me, I am discussing a personal issue, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CREDENTIALS, MINISTERING TALENT, PREACHING OF GRACE ALONE FOR SALVATION, or a totally respectful position regarding sola scriptura at our church. And I do mean MY CHURCH. It may be a problem with me becoming knowledgeable about matters simply not dealt with before. It certainly is an issue that even RC Sproul, whom I greatly admire, admonished against breaking fellowship over. A real problem is that I am not aware of any other church that is close to my church regarding all other matters that I believe are Calvinist. And, even Calvin declined to exegete Revelation. I am discussing this with a knowledgeable Elder who, quite frankly, was astounded that Eschatology, especially historic premil versus amil was particularly relevant to my walk with Christ. I don't want to be a legalist, but something was stirred in my heart as we went through Matthew 24 recently.
  15. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Where are you from? Maybe someone on the board can point you to a good reformed congregation.
  16. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    Pinellas County, Florida, Clearwater area.
  17. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    That seems a very accurate assessment.

    In fact, RC appears to know your pastor. At the least, I did find that your pastor has an article which appeared in Tabletalk, the Ligonier Ministries magazine.

    There are a lot of Reformed churches in that area. Bill was right earlier to ask about your own convictions regarding baptism. If you are going to search for a different church, that's the first consideration.
    I can prepare a list of Presbyterian churches in your area, but there's no point in doing that if you are a credobaptist by conviction.
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Is it just me, or does the divide btw Dispensational and covenantal eschatology appear to be widening of late? The local Dispensational monster non-denom McCarthurite Church no longer allows covenantal believers to serve in Church Office. What, pray tell, could be eschatological implications of that!?

    You have my sympathies, brother. A tough predicament. No sound advice from me, since I would be high-tailing to the nearest covenantal and Confessional Presbyterian body due to my own convictions. But I will pray for you.

    BTW, thank you for your service to this country in a very difficult place and time.
  20. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think the divide is widening. I think more and more people are recognizing that Dispensational vs covenant touches more than just eschatology. I had marks taken off of a paper recently for quoting II Chron 7:14 to show that God hates sin in the church and that he blesses church discipline. The marks were taken off because that verse deals with Israel and is OT. It doesn't apply to us.
  21. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    I am working through a awful lot of information and appreciate all of the input. I am not "freaking out" as if I found out I have joined a Mormon church unintentionally. I want to "“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Nothing more, nothing less.
  22. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    Very kind of you to comment, I was just discussing with my son the unbelievable difficulties Vietnam Vets confronted upon return, he doesn't believe me that some "California Progressive" got in my face when I passed through the Los Angeles airport on my way home. I guess the short hair, great suntan, aviator sunglasses, and parachute bag holding my belongings gave me away. Our country certainly has become much more supportive of military personnel and that is a true blessing to all of us. But, MacArthur is also attacked by hard core Dispensationalists, as they are referred to herein. Am I stuck in some unknown middle of this discussion. I am learning everyday...
  23. R Harris

    R Harris Puritan Board Sophomore

    Over the past year, several people have left our church to go elsewhere due to problems that continue to some degree and the fact that we do not have a pastor. However, I find it very disturbing that several members have gone to the Faith Bible Church, the home of Mark Hitchcock, who has written some strange "prophecy" books over the past several years in the same vein as Hal Lindsey. (In fact, one family that left, the husband was an elder (!!!!) in our PCA church.)

    We saw a former member the other night who was going there, and I cautioned her about the Hitchcock writings. Not only was she not aware of all of his writings, she really didn't understand the critical differences between the covenantal and dispensational viewpoints.

    It amazes me how members of the congregation oftentimes really don't understand the deeper teachings of Scripture, and particularly how they relate to the denominational differences. It is as if most people really don't care at all or do not feel the differences are all that much to be concerned with. Absolutely amazing.
  24. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    James, I understand having strong convictions regarding covenant theology and if the Lord has really pressed some things upon you during the study of Matt 24, I think that's wonderful! I am a reformed presbyterian, and have strong views regarding covenant theology myself, so I understand that very well. Personally, I am an amillenialist when it comes to eschatology so I understand your concerns. However, at the same time I would be careful to call a particular church dispensational when they are not. I tried to graciously ask you to demonstrate how the church is teaching dispensationalism by giving specific examples ,however, you have not done so. I was not speaking of Pastor Kreloff's credentials, or his views on calvinism but more specifically the issues that you have brought up here. Which by the way, anyone could google the church and see who the Pastor is. I admire the fact that you are learning, and I think perhaps there has been some miscommunication along the way. Have you actually talked directly to Pastor Kreloff regarding these issues? I am sure that he would be more than willing to go over these things in more detail. Unfortunately, when people think of eschatology they immediately think of either dispensationalism or covenant theology. However, there are more views than that. I would say that the two camps are on the complete opposite spectrum of one another, but there are many views that lie within that spectrum. I found this online, and I think it would be helpful to take a look at when you have some time: COMPARISON OF FOUR ESCHATOLOGICAL POSITIONS I believe that church teaches something more in line with the Historic/Covenant Premil category. If you decide to leave the church over this issue I would completely understand that, but I would just be cautious to speak falsely of the brethern. I don't believe that you have done so intentionally, but there are so many people that read this forum so I would rather things be clarified.
  25. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    Yvonne: Fair enough comments. I am not leaving until I have exhausted every method I know to fully understand what has troubled me. I am meeting tonight with Elders and will get with Pastor Kreloff if I cannot understand what is bothering me. I am fully comfortable, that but for understanding the historic premil position of the church, that we get the Word preached accurately and with love. I have been a member for over ten years, and only upon hearing Matthew 24 did something stir in me about what EXACTLY I heard. I may have confused the historical position with all of the hyped up end times stuff that flys around, after all they use much of the same pre-trib hysteria. I am making sure that I understand biblical eschatology. That is why I am here, certainly not to be confrontational with other Believers. I admit there are things I know, other things I will never understand short of Glory. I just don't want to sit and absorb things that either I don't understand fully (my query) or that is not biblical. All of the clergy at our church have been nothing short of Godly men and handle the Word fully.
  26. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with what 2 fellow Texans have said. I would not "jump" out of Membership until you can find something more solid. My 2 cents.
  27. jamesinflorida

    jamesinflorida Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed, Yvonne your chart has narrowed some of my concerns, more reading, praying for a full understanding. It might just be my lack of understanding as we do not "live" in the end times issues. Thanks.
  28. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.


    Why haven't you set up your signature block yet?

    Click here:, scroll down to Edit Signature (on the left side of the page)
    and please get it set up without delay.
  29. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    I do not believe this is an issue ever merits breaking a church membership oath unless the local church does not permit your views or they begin to teach heresy. Just because someone has a change in theology that does not mean one ought to change churches. Membership vows have meaning.
  30. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    Hi James,

    Yeah, I'm sure you heard a lot of things that would warrant concern, and to be honest sound a lot like Dispensational theology. But, I do hope that chart is somewhat helpful, it helped me tremendously when I was looking at some of these issues. I will be praying for you, that God would direct you in you decisions whether to stay or not. I just did a quick search to see if there were any Presbyterian churches in that area. The closest one that I could find is in Palmetto, not sure how far you are from there but here is their website: Providence (OPC)
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