What is more dangerous to our theology? FV or Dispensationalism?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Doulos McKenzie, May 16, 2017.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I saw this thread and mostly avoided it but came to this conclusion as well. Dispensationalism is not really something that we have to root out within Reformed communions. It exists as sort of a "default" for many American Evangelicals who attend PCA Churches because the PCA is a Church that preaches the Word and stands on Biblical authority. A Baptist friend of mine from Okinawa ended up in our Church here and he wondered why they always found themselves in PCA Churches (not yet convinced of the baptism of their covenant children) and he agreed with me that it was our confidence in the Scriptures to change hearts and not gimmicks, etc that was attractive.

    I think FV is a danger but I also think it's a fading one. I like the analogy you used about sucking the marrow out of folks. I think it had its apex a decade ago and there are matasized errors that creep up but they tend to group up if they're really committed. The saddest thing for me is to watch a really sweet family whose father was really into patriarchy pretty much abandon the faith. His beautiful daughters and wife have now turned their back on the Lord. I've other friends of Churches I attended where there was a similar pressure of showing how "perfectly" you were raising your kids and practically obsessing about noise from children in Churches who have left Reformed Churches as a result.

    I think FV-thinking is always a danger to Reformed people but especially to those with families or those who use their theology as a way to idealize family relationships and the promise that the right kind of parenting will produce the Godly offspring that is otherwise a good goal. It's sort of a sophisticated version of Raising Kids God's Way but it has the allure of faux scholarship and the dressing up the doctrine of wolves in the misapplied ideas of Puritans and other Reformed thinkers.

    I don't expect it to survive as a movement much beyond some of its charismatic leaders. Their multi-generational vision will be thrown down and they'll find the world or others to blame leaving many victims in its wake who ought to have received the richness of Reformed theology for wearied souls rather than sucking the life out of them with a cheap alternative.
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    It seems to me that the biggest danger now is probably the various forms of progressivism in the PCA (and elsewhere) that some have raised the alarm about. But that could also be a vehicle for more openness to FV since they are "conservative" after all. That's how many have been drawn to Roman Catholicism.
  3. Warren

    Warren Puritan Board Freshman

    While it is certain the FV are aggressively developing an atomic arsenal, Dispensationalists prefer to accelerate doomsday by arming Jews and provoking Arabs to attack them. It is hard to say which is more destructive to our theology.
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Maybe, but they couldn't have had in mind the modern secular state of Israel.
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    There are at least some dispensationalists who say it doesn't necessarily have any significance either.

    Interestingly, the amil Lloyd-Jones once told the premil Carl Henry that we shouldn't bother with social justice because the Jews had just retaken Jerusalem and therefore the end was nigh.

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  6. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    Maybe to Rev. Glaser's point, it's not just the intent but their view of the law, how it applies. Antinomianism may be not just people trying bold-face disobey God, but neglectors or ignorers of duty.

    I don't remember too much about dispensationalism, though.
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I hope so; but recoil from antinomianism has a tendency to lead towards neonomianism and vice versa, so these concepts have manifested themselves on a recurring basis.
  8. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    As some have recoiled from dispensationalism to hyper preterism.

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  9. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Same thing there, just 2000 years apart. :p or rather just a different generation.
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  10. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    The main thing that O would hold yo regarding the Jewish people would be do see that those alive at the Second Coming will be saved by God enabling them to call upon then the name of their Messiah...
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Full Preterism is by far the worst...
  12. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Think that some reformed who hold to historical premil. like those that you mentioned, saw God still doing 'something" with national israel and the Jews still, correct?
  13. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Another good point, as some would indeed se a distinction made between jewish people and Gods dealing with them, and the state of israel itself...
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Given the vagueness of "doing something," there are amils, postmils and historic premils who could agree with that since "something" might mean anything. I'd think that the only people who could truly deny it would be the ones who say that there is no ethnic Israel or Jewish person today in any sense, which is a view that evidently contradicts the Westminster Standards. (See Westminster Larger Catechism 191.)

    With regard to what has been termed "Christian Zionism," that is largely confined to dispensationalism today even though that wasn't the case years ago. It was generally held by those who were any form of premil as well as many postmils and was held by some of the historicist school as well as futurists. If I'm not mistaken, there is at least one postmil member here who says that the church is the new Israel yet believes that Israel is to be restored to the land.
  15. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps I'm confused, but our Pastor, if I understood him correctly, preaching on Romans 9:6-7 and following, points out that 'Israel' is not ethnic, but the elect.
    6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

    7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Some Reformed hold that view. It isn't necessarily mainstream but it's an acceptable view. The only problem is that it ends up reading "All the elect will be saved," which seems tautologous. Further, in Romans 9-11 Israel usually means Israel, especially in chapter 9
  17. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The identity of 'all Israel' would be a great topic for another thread. But, lets allow this discussion to be about FV and Dispensationalism.
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    So the "big differences" between Dispensational and Reformed communities might not be as large as they once were in the past, especially under Scofieldism viewpoint?
  19. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, that depends, but even some staunch covenantalists such as O. Palmer Robertson have said "yes" up to a point although the essential differences remain. I don't think "classic" Old Scofieldism/Chaferism (i.e. making statements that suggest that there was a different way of salvation in the OT, among other things that most Dispensationalists today repudiate) has a whole lot of adherents today, but I could be wrong. Regardless, it has a lot fewer than it did a generation or two ago. Ryrie and the men who followed (what some have termed "revised" or "normative" dispensationalism) certainly aren't acceptable from a confessional standpoint, but at least some have expressed appreciation for their clarification that they believe that salvation has always been by grace through faith and never through law-keeping. (Just how much the OT saints knew about Jesus Christ specifically (as opposed to somewhat vague promises of deliverance/salvation) is another point of contention between dispensationalists and other evangelicals, especially the Reformed.)

    The biggest issue is Israel and the Church (ecclesiology) and not just in relation to the timing of the rapture. All who are confessional in any sense would affirm that there is a "Spiritual Israel" in a sense that would also include elect gentiles as well as Jews. While a few Progressive Dispensationalists has spoken of Spiritual Israel, most are loath to use the term because they think it means that the church is the new Israel and such talk tends to obliterate the promises to national Israel that they believe are yet unfulfilled. Even historic premils of the past of the type that I've spoken of here (i.e. Zionists of a sort) have gone to some lengths to split hairs on verses like Gal. 6:16 all the while emphasizing that ultimately there is only one people of God. There is not a whole lot of difference between that form of covenant premil and progressive dispensationalism other than a formal affirmation of the unity of the covenant of grace and in some cases (but not all) the timing of the rapture. But I think it should also be apparent why men with those views couldn't easily coexist in a church like the OPC, even if they weren't technically dispensationalists, which meant Scofieldism in that day.

    As I noted earlier, a lot of newbies from a dispensational background are confused and think they can be confessionally Reformed and hold to something like MacArthur's eschatology and ecclesiology (WRT who is a part of the universal church). If you haven't already, compare the 1689 and the Grace Community Church/Masters Seminary doctrinal statement on the church and the difference is clear immediately, as I posted earlier. Either the OT saints are members of the church or they are not. (Some of the old Baptists who were more or less covenantal taught that Abraham, etc. were basically retroactively added to the church once it was inaugurated, which is something that dispensationalism denies.)

    I haven't read extensively in progressive dispensationalism, so I don't know whether or not any of them would affirm that the OT saints are members of the church universal. If so, then I don't know what the difference is between that and covenant/historic premil. Maybe it's a dime's worth, or perhaps a little more than that for those confessional covenant premils who place a strong emphasis on perpetuity of the moral law (i.e all 10 commandments.)
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Think that the major difference between Covenant premil and progressive Dispensational would be that Dispensational still hold to a separate rapture, and tend to still see OT believers in some fashion separated from Body of Christ, the church.. They are getting pretty close together though it would seem!
  21. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Some of you mention that you haven't actually met someone who holds to FV theology. Do you think this is due to:
    1) People don't know they are holding to it
    2) It's not as common (yet)
  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to the board Von; please fix your signature in accord to board rules so we know you; see the instructions in the link in mine below.
  23. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    While we have to be careful with our definitions (and one can wrangle over that for a long time), this is generally true, although I don't know that there has really been much movement in the past 20-25 years. And there really can't be much more movement on Israel or PD will cease to be any kind of dispensationalism at all. I know that Bock (one of the fathers of prog. disp.) has basically said as much with regard to why he is still a dispensationalist as opposed to historic premil. Ladd had a lot of influence on prog. disp. with regard to the "Already, Not Yet" view of the kingdom as opposed to the totally postponed kingdom of the older dispensationalism. But again, much of the difference between what goes forth under the banner of "historic" premil today and PD is because Ladd and those he influenced basically embraced "replacement theology" in a way that older historic premils did not. The older historic premils and PD are not that far apart on what they believe(d) about Israel's future. But paradoxically given today's landscape, the older premils also were more covenantal in their view of the law, the Sabbath and so on.

    There are (and have been) diversities, but some would argue that they are the exceptions that prove the rule. There are progressive Dispensationalists who are pre-wrath, but that is still a separate rapture. Robert Gundry considers himself a Dispensational (because of what he believes about Israel as opposed to someone like Ladd) but he is post-trib. The Presbyterians Boice, Schaeffer and Buswell all held to a rapture that is separate from the second coming, either pre or mid-trib, yet they were covenantal. I think they believed in a separate rapture on exegetical grounds as opposed to sort of an a priori commitment to keep Israel and the Church separate the way that dispensationalists have tended to do. Some have argued that covenantal pre-trib or mid-trib (or even post-trib when it is "Zionistic") is inherently unstable and that either you are going to end up more on the Dispensational side or more of a "historic" premil that basically reads OT prophecy the way that amils do (e.g. Ladd, Grudem.)

    In general there has been a decline of even a loose covenant theology among evangelicals over the past century. Most baptistic people who have abandoned dispensationalism haven't adopted covenant theology, strictly speaking. In that sense, covenant premil and historic premil aren't exactly the same. (From what I understand, Ladd rejected covenant theology of the type taught in the 1689.) Dispensationalists tend to equate the two because to many of them, if you aren't dispensational, you're "covenantal" since they tend to erroneously reduce that down to the Israel/church issue. There's a lot more to covenant theology than "replacement theology." (I'm not wanting to discuss the propriety of using that term (which some covenantalists have indeed used in some sense, albeit a minority today) but am using it as a shorthand for the purposes of illustration.)

    There are fewer differences between progressive dispensationalism and a "historic" premillennialism that isn't tied to any form of confessional covenant theology, since many of them aren't really going to differ with progressive dispensationalists on the Law of God, etc. But among those who do embrace covenant theology, other differences include law and grace, what the OT saints knew and believed (i.e. the specific content of their faith) etc. The differences in soteriology aren't generally as wide as they are with Scofieldism, but there are still some differences.

    But that kind of older covenant premil that I've alluded to seems to be almost extinct outside of things like the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony (which seems to be dominated nowadays by men from the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster), some Sovereign Grace Baptists (the ones I'm thinking of that I've come across on SermonAudio are covenantal but also more or less Landmarker), and some FB groups. (All of the above are basically post-trib.) Some would argue that the reason why this theology is an "endangered species" because it is inherently unstable (as above) and others would say that it is partly due to a lack of emphasis on it by those who espouse it. More recent examples include Schaeffer and Boice, who focused on more fundamental issues such as inerrancy, worldview (Schaeffer) and the doctrines of grace (Boice). The same could even be said of Spurgeon and Ryle. Their views on the restoration and regathering of Israel were plain enough, but that's not what they're remembered for. Horatius Bonar (a covenant premil who held to views on Israel that would generally be put in the "Dispensational" pile today) edited a quarterly journal on prophecy for almost a quarter century, but that's not what he's remembered for. By contrast the likes of Walvoord are going to be remembered for their eschatology and little else.

    As I noted earlier, there have been covenant premils who are pre-trib and there are at least a few today. Unless he's changed his position, Dr. Michael Barrett of Puritan Reformed Seminary (formerly of the Free Presbyterian Church in North America, which is as much fundamentalist as it is Reformed) is premil and pre-trib but is nevertheless strongly opposed to dispensationalism. Also keep in mind that what he is refuting there (to my recollection) is Scofieldism, more or less, and that he was teaching within a fundamentalist context, albeit Presbyterian, and was closely associated with Bob Jones University. In that context, dispensationalism encompassed a lot more than pre-trib, and to some extent it still does. And he has said that he holds his views on eschatology somewhat loosely compared to his other convictions. But I think that many of his objections to dispensationalism would also apply to PD given his strong commitment to covenant theology, Puritan spirituality (which most Dispensationalists of any stripe would consider to be legalist), his objection to the novelty of dispensationalism, and so on.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    FV is small. While it won some judicial victories (or at least forced a stalemate) in some PCA courts, it is still a minority within a minority (Reformed people) in America.
  25. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    I did not realize that one could be holding with Covenant theology and still be pre mil and pre trib Rature, as thought the seperate rapture was denied?
  26. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    I suppose being a former dispensationalist not of the Scofield or Chafer variety, I see the idea of a Pre-trib or any sort of 'rapture' during some sort future seven year tribulation as inherently bound up with dispensationalism. I consider it one of the main reasons why it is still dangerous. It takes some exegetical leaps that are indefensible. I read every article at the Pre Trib Research center back in those days and found them all wanting because I wanted to know how in the world they got to that view as other reading challenged such an idea. I desparately wanted to defend it. Now look where I ended up. I find it disheartening that those who are covenantal can hold to such a view.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  27. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, I think most people here (and confessional Reformed folk generally) would agree with you. But there have been some, especially 50+ years ago, who held to both whatever we may think of that combo. This was one of the reasons why the Bible Presbyterian Church split from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the late 30s. But my guess is that they would have ended up splitting even if all of the fundamentalists (as opposed to confessionalists) had been post-trib.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  28. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Few do today, especially outside of the Bible Presbyterian Church. And it seems that it may be on the wane in what is left of the BPC. I've come across one or more of their pastors on SermonAudio who is a partial preterist, If I recall correctly. That would have been unthinkable in the past when even post-trib premil could be controversial. (I'm certainly no expert on the BPC, but I think you're probably more likely to find pre-trib in the group that split from the BPC in recent years over the BPC's new friendly stance toward the OPC. (That's the church that Carl Mcintire pastored for many years.))
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  29. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Makes sense regarding the Bible Presbyterians since dispensationalism filled a vacuum during the Fundamentalist controversy. In many ways all three of those groups were bound up at one time now that I think about it.
  30. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Were it not for the popularity of Douglas Wilson's books on the family and his influence on the homeschool and classical Christian education movements, I doubt it would have become as prevalent as it has. It also came out of theonomic circles, and most Presbyterians probably haven't met a theonomist, at least to their knowledge. (Some theonomists and similar folk strongly opposed it, but the seeds of FV may have been present in theonomic circles even in the early 80s, if not before.) In a nutshell, it emanated from certain ministries and churches. If one is in circles where those ministries had very little to no influence, then more likely than not one has never met a FVer. But it was a big enough problem for most if not all NAPARC denominations to issue reports against it.

    Some who are basically FV abandoned Presbyterianism for Anglicanism also.
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