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Racism is far from being dead in America

These stories below are becoming more common. Over the past five days I’ve seen at least 4-5 similar news items from around America. And people want to claim racism is a dead issue in America? Think again…it’s alive and kicking.

White Teacher To Black Student: Say ‘Yes Sir, Master’ When You Talk To Me

The Des Moines School Board District has apologized after a white teacher in Iowa told a black student to say ‘Yes, sir, master.’ District spokesman Phil Roeder called the statement “wrong in every way.” He also said Shawn McCurtain, the teacher, remains an employee. So I guess ‘wrong in every way’ isn’t such a big deal to the school district.

In mid-May, the Roosevelt High School teacher told students to move to another spot to take a final test. Senior Jabre White responded, “Yes, sir.” McCurtain then said, “You meant to say, ‘Yes, sir, master.’ ”

According to the Des Moines Register, the 17-year-old student said, “Who the f— are you talking to? You’re nobody’s master, and this is not the slave days.” White was obviously upset and so was his mother, Nicholle White, so she contacted school and district officials. Principal Joseph Blazevich responded to the incident saying it was “terrible” and “shameful,” but he couldn’t discuss any discipline. He says the teacher was remorseful, according to KCII. (Source with video)

And this one, from four days ago,

Supervisor threatens to hang worker for drinking from ‘white people’ fountain

CNN) — The recording sounds like something from Jim Crow days: a white supervisor threatening to hang an African-American employee for drinking water from a “white people” fountain. But it’s 2014, in Memphis, Tennessee. Untonia Harris, who worked at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse, said he used his phone to record his supervisor after feeling discriminated against for months. In the audio, Harris asks if he could use a microwave. Ex-worker: Supervisor said he’d hang me “Hell no!” a man he describes as the supervisor responds. When he asks why, the purported voice from the supervisor says it’s because Harris is not white.

In another attempt to use the water fountain, the supervisor has the same reaction. “I need to put a sign here that says, ‘White people only,'” the voice says. Harris asks what will happen if he is caught drinking from the fountain. The voice replies, “That’s when we hang you.” (Source with more and video)

Believe it was Chief Justice John Roberts who said recently that racism is basically a dead issue in America. Me thinks he needs to get out of his black robe and live out in the real world for awhile, cause racism is far from a dead issue. Frankly, since the election of our current (first black President) I think it’s boldly emerged from the closet where many people conveniently “stuffed it” years ago.

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Speaking at J Street org. national summit: Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer

What he said isn’t a surprise, the surprise is the fact he actually said it….

Haaretz

In a biting assessment of the Netanyahu government as interfering in American domestic politics, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer declared that relations between the top leaderships of the two countries have never been as bad as they are today.

Speaking to the opening session of the dovish J Street organization’s national summit in San Francisco on Saturday night, Kurtzer said, “I find it extraordinary over these past few years, the degree to which this government of Israel has interfered in our domestic politics in a way to which, if we had done the reverse, it would have created a firestorm. Unbelievable.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his ruling Likud have long been seen as indicating their antipathy to President Barack Obama and their strong preference for the Republican Party, in particular during the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican contender Mitt Romney.

“Unless, frankly, Israel’s leadership begins to understand that the United States is also a sovereign country,” Kurtzer said, “we’re going to continue to have problems.”

Kurtzer noted that while “the ties that bind us” in such spheres as security, intelligence and economic cooperation have never been better, “the political ties between our two governments have never been as fraught as they are today, because the ties at the top have never been as bad as they are today.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu, for reasons that only he can explain, does not like or trust the president of the United States. And the president of the United States, for reasons that he can explain, does not like or trust the prime minister of the state of Israel.”

Kurtzer, now a professor at Princeton, served as ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, following a term as ambassador to Egypt during the Clinton administration.

 

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Justin Peters Calls Out Todd Bentley on Stage

Bet this kicked up a ruckus...

World’s most foremost expert on Word-Faith and Charismania, and fellow Worldview Weekend broadcaster, Justin Peters called out notorious faith-healer, Todd (Bam-Bam) Bentley last night

Bam-Bam (who got that nickname from his unique healing style, which includes hitting and kicking people) made the mistake of giving Justin the microphone. That was NOT a smart idea. After Justin gave a “prophetic word” from Matthew 7, Todd Bentley asked who was the “worker of iniquity” Justin was referring to. Justin said, “You are.” They then took the mic and Justin continued to preach until they forced him off stage.

Then, they removed him from the building and called the police on Justin and his associates (after Bam-Bam prayed that God would bless them).

Full post with video at Pulpit and Pen, with an update included concerning an up-coming interview with Justin Peters on the “event” 

(Case you don’t know who Justin Peters is) –  Justin Peters Ministry

Clip at youtube;

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An Examination of Dispensationalism by William E. Cox (3)

A small portion of the material in this section and the one following may be covered in William Cox’s personal message (Why I Left Scofieldism), but because these particular Dispensationalist doctrines of there being “two people(s) of God” and “two Godly Kingdoms”, is the very foundation on which Dispensationalism is built, I believe it cannot be omitted  from this series. *Please take note of the Dispensational belief that Jesus came (the first time) to present a “legitimate offer” to the Jews of an earthly, political Kingdom. 

VI – DISPENSATIONALIST BELIEFS: ISRAEL AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD

According to dispensationalists, God has two distinct bodies of people with whom he is working: Israel and the church. There is a separate plan for each of these two peoples. Israel is said to be an earthly people, while the church represents a heavenly body. National Israel’s expectation is an earthly kingdom; the church’s hope is eternal bliss in heaven. While the church realized her goal through belief in the finished work of Christ on the cross, Israel’s goal will finally be realized through legal obedience.

Whereas historic Christianity has held that the purpose of our Lord’s first advent was to die on the cross for the sins of the world, the dispensationalist teaches that his real purpose was to establish an earthly kingdom. This, they say, was to have been an earthly, political kingdom over which Christ would have ruled from the literal throne of David, and in which all Old Testament prophecies were to be literally fulfilled. That is to say that children would have played with ferocious animals, lions would have eaten hay while oxen ate lion’s food, and Jesus would have ruled over all with a rod of iron. This kingdom would have been a perfected continuation of the Davidic kingdom of the Old Testament with David’s greater Son, Jesus, ruling in his place for one thousand years.

Before continuing in a further description of dispensational teaching with reference to this alleged earthly kingdom, we should like to state that this teaching (that Christ aspires to sit on the literal throne of David) is one of the many evidences of the weak Christology in the dispensational system. Even if God should resurrect the throne on which David sat, which throne has long since decayed and turned to dust, it would indeed be a demotion of the lowest order for our Lord, who occupies the throne of heaven, to be a successor to a throne once occupied by an earthly king! And yet this is one of the very highpoints in dispensational eschatology. Jesus, they say, failed once to sit on the throne of David, but at the second advent he is to have that high honor. Our Lord has for nearly two thousand years occupied the throne of which David’s throne was a mere type. Peter depicts this in Acts 2:29-36.

To return now to the dispensational teachings about the kingdom of Israel, they teach that Jesus came to earth the first time fully intending to establish an earthly millennial kingdom with his chosen people, Israel.

Clarence Larkin (Rightly Dividing the Word, p. 51), in describing the ministry of John the Baptist as a forerunner to Christ, said:

“Prepare the way of the Lord for what? Not for the Cross but for the Kingdom.”

M.R. DeHaan, well-known radio preacher, made the following statement with reference to the first advent of our Lord (The Second Coming of Jesus, p. 98)

…the kingdom of heaven is the reign of heaven’s King on earth. This Jesus offered to the nation of Israel when he came the first time, but they rejected it and he went to the cross.

W.E. Blackstone (Jesus is Coming, p. 46), who is said to share the honor with C.I. Scofield as one of those who did most to perpetuate dispensationalism in this country, said concerning the first advent:

“He would have set up the kingdom, but they rejected and crucified Him.”

On page 998 of the Scofield Bible we read that, when Christ appeared the first time one earth to the Jewish people, the next order of revelation, as it then stood, should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom.

Lewis Sperry Chafer (Systematic Theology) said:

The kingdom was announced by John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles. The Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35) and the proclamation that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7) consisted of a legitimate offer to Israel of the promised earthly Davidic kingdom, designed particularly for Israel. However, the Jewish nation rejected their King and with him the Kingdom. (Quoted from George Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God, p. 50).

Why did the Christ fail in his attempt to establish a kingdom during his first advent?

Dispensationalists say it was because his success depended on the consent of the Jewish nation. S.D. Gordon (Quiet Talks About Jesus, p. 131) says: “Everything must be done through man’s consent.” Commenting further on this he said (sec. IV):

God proposes; man disposes. God proposed a king, and a worldwide kingdom with great prosperity and peace. Man disposed of that plan, for the bit of time and space controlled by his will.

The question immediately arises in our minds: If the Jews were able to frustrate God’s plan at the first advent of our Lord, then what assurance have we that his second advent will not also somehow be thwarted? We say this rather facetiously, but the fact still remains that our hope of the second coming is built on the success of his first advent. “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

When the Jews rejected Christ’s “legitimate” offer of the kingdom, say the dispensationalists, that kingdom was then postponed until the second coming of Christ. Then the same earthly Davidic kingdom, which they are supposed to have refused, will be established in the form of the millennium. During the millennium all the plans, which were supposedly thwarted by the Jews at the first advent, will be carried out in a literal manner.

The importance placed in dispensational theology by the alleged kingdom, which was offered, rejected, and postponed until the millennium, can be seen in the following lengthy doctrinal statement:

The Magnum Opus of dispensational eschatology will be found in Lewis Sperry Chafer’s “Systematic Theology”, where the entire range of theology is interpreted in the light of dispensational eschatology. From this work we extract the following interpretation of the kingdom of God.

Two specific realms must be considered: The kingdom of God, which includes all intelligences in heaven or one earth who are willingly subject to God, and the kingdom of heaven, which is the manifestation of the kingdom of God at any time in its earthy form. Thus the kingdom of God appears on earth in various forms or embodiments during the centuries.

1. There was first of all the kingdom of the Old Testament theocracy in which God ruled over Israel in and through the judges.

2. The kingdom was covenanted by God as he entered into unconditional covenant with David and gave to Israel its national hope of a permanent earthly kingdom (II Samuel 7).

3. The kingdom was predicted by the prophets as a glorious kingdom for Israel on earth when the Messianic Son of David would sit on David’s throne and rule over the nations from Jerusalem.

4. The kingdom was announced by John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles. The Gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35) and the proclamation that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7) consisted of a legitimate offer to Israel of the promised earthly Davidic kingdom, designed particularly for Israel. However, the Jewish nation rejected their king and with Him, the kingdom.

5. Because of Israel’s rejection, the kingdom was postponed until the second advent of Christ. The millennial kingdom was offered, and postponed; but it will be instituted on earth after Christ’s return. Since the kingdom was postponed it is a great error to attempt, as is so commonly done, to build a kingdom on the first advent of Christ as its basis, for, according to the Scriptures, the kingdom which was offered to Israel was rejected and is therefore delayed, to be realized only with the second advent of Christ.

6. The kingdom, because it was rejected and postponed, entered a mystery form (Matt. 13) for the present age. This mystery form of the kingdom has to do with the Church age when the kingdom of heaven is embodied in Christendom. God is now ruling on the earth insofar as the parables of the mystery of the kingdom of heaven require. In this mystery phase of the kingdom, good and evil mingle together and are to grow together until Christ returns.

7. The kingdom is to be re-announced by a Jewish remnant of 144,000 in final anticipation of Messiah’s return. At the beginning of the great tribulation, which occurs immediately before the return of Christ, the Church will be raptured, taken out of the world, to be with Christ. An election of Israel is then sealed by God to proclaim throughout all the world the Gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14), i.e., that the Davidic kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, is about to be set up.

8. The millennial kingdom will then be realized as Christ returns in power and glory at the conclusion of the tribulation. Then Israel, which has been gathered from its dispersion through the earth to Messiah, will accept Him as such, and will enter the millennial kingdom as the covenanted people. (George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God, pp. 50, 51).

Noting again that dispensationalists teach the kingdom to have been offered, rejected, and postponed until a later age, we pose the question: What if the Jews had accepted Jesus’ offer to establish an earthly Davidic kingdom at his first advent? According to dispensationalist teaching, people would then have been saved by legal obedience. In the light of this fact, dispensationalism would also teach, when carried out to its logical conclusion, that the cross would not have been necessary as a means of salvation.

Let the dispensationalists themselves speak at this point; S.D. Gordon (Quiet Talks About Jesus, p. 114) says:

It can be said at once that His dying was not God’s own plan. It was conceived somewhere else and yielded to by God. God has a plan of atonement by which men who were willing could be saved from sin and its effect. That plan is given in the Old Hebrew code. To the tabernacle or temple, under prescribed regulations, a man could bring some animal which he owned. The man brought that which was his own. It represented him.

In the above statement a dispensationalist has been consistent at least. If, as he says, God offered a plan other than the cross, and if men had accepted that plan, then they would have been saved thereby. Since the proffered kingdom was alleged to have been an Old Testament kingdom then men would have abided by Old Testament sacrifices. It needs to be said here, however, that the Old Testament sacrifices were never intended as a method of salvation. They pointed to the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. The Scriptures plainly teach that the “blood of bulls and goats” could not bring about salvation, but that they were a type of the cross of Calvary.

What if that legal kingdom had been accepted? Let Lewis Sperry Chafer answer (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p. 56):

“It was a bona fide offer and, had they received him as their king, the nation’s hopes would have been realized”

Dispensationalists make two assertions concerning the kingdom:

(1) The kingdom of heaven is Messianic, mediatorial, and Davidic (Scofield’s footnote, p. 1003); it also signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ, the Son of David (footnote p. 996).

(2) Although there is a present kingdom in the world, this is the kingdom of God and is not the same as the kingdom of heaven. Now here hangs the entire dispensational position. They look for a future Davidic kingdom, i.e., a future millennium, based on an alleged distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. If the fact can be scripturally established that the kingdom of heaven is synonymous with the kingdom of God, which the dispensationalist admits is present already, then two things are true: (a) the Davidic kingdom has already been established, and (b) there will be no future millennium, but it too began at the first advent.

This we believe the Bible teaches.

In Matthew’s Gospel we have the inspired record of our Lord’s teaching concerning John the Baptist. He clearly states that John preached a kingdom message following the time of the law and the prophets.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied unto John”  (Matt. 11:12, 13).

We should note two things about the above statement:

(1) the content of John’s message is called by our Lord, “the kingdom of heaven”,

(2) in order to suffer violence a thing must be in existence; so that the kingdom existed already during the earthly ministry of John.

Luke also records a conversation of our Lord during which He spoke of John the Baptist in these words:

“The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it”  (Luke 16:16)

These could well have been two separate messages delivered by our Lord. The important thing to note is that in both messages he fixed the time as being the same; he said that John took up where the law and the prophets left off and that he preached the gospel of a kingdom. In one message (Matt. 11:12) our Lord referred to that kingdom as “the kingdom of heaven,” while on the other occasion (Luke 16:16) in speaking of the same man, same time, and same message, he referred to that kingdom as “the kingdom of God.”

Another scriptural evidence that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are synonymous terms is found in two accounts of the sending out of the Twelve.

Two inspired writers, “speaking as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” give the accounts. One of these inspired men chose to use the term “kingdom of heaven,” while the other preferred “the kingdom of God.” No doubt this difference in wording is owing to the fact that the Gospels were addressed to separate groups. The Jews hesitated to use the name of God, so the one who addressed them would respect this custom and substitute the name “heaven” in place of the name “God.” But the important thing for us to consider is the fact that these men could use either term, proving to us that both terms indicated the same reality.

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 10:7)

And he sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick (Luke 9:2)

Matthew and Luke record the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry. And, while there can be no doubt that both refer to his opening message, one uses the term “kingdom of heaven,” while the other refers to “the kingdom of God.” Would dispensationalists have us believe Jesus preached two different kingdoms as being at hand at the same time?

From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).

Compare verse 12 for the time element in Matthew 4:1. Like the following passage, it refers to the time immediately following John’s death.

Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14, 15).

If further proof be needed to establish the fact that these two terms are synonymous, let us turn to Matthew 19:23, 24. In this passage we have a case of Hebrew parallelism in which our Lord says the same thing twice, for effect. The interesting thing to observe is that our Lord himself, without changing subjects, refers to the same kingdom in two different terms.

And Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

These scriptures show conclusively that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are one and the same. Therefore, dispensationalists are looking for a future kingdom which in reality has been in existence since the first advent of our Lord. They admit that, whenever the Davidic kingdom is set up on earth, Israel’s hope will have been realized; they also admit that one kingdom of God came into existence with the birth of the Christian church.

To prove that the New Testament knows only one kingdom, called by two different names, is to prove by the dispensationalists’ own arguments that the kingdom is a present reality, identical with Christianity. And, since the dispensationalist teaches that the kingdom is to come about during the millennium, his own argument must also lead to the conclusion that the millennium is the inter-advent period. This, we believe, the New Testament clearly teaches. One clear description of the Messianic reign of Christ (the millennium) is recorded in Matthew 11:1-6. It is to be noted that this reign began with our Lord’s first advent, not at the second coming.

John Calvin, the great theologian of the Reformation, counted as heresy the idea of an earthly establishment of the Davidic kingdom. The following quotation is from the pen of Heinrich Quistorp (Calvin’s Doctrine of the Last Things, pp. 123, 158).

The fact that Christ as the Son of Man will appear on the clouds of heaven is a plain indication that His divine glory and the glory of His kingdom will be no earthly phenomenon, as the disciples had supposed. He who in His incarnate life had hidden His heavenly majesty under the form of a servant will then be manifest with all the tokens of the power of that kingdom which is from heaven because it is the kingdom of God.
This kingdom of Christ will be an eternal kingdom because it is the kingdom of God. Calvin emphasized this with vigor. Hence he decidedly rejects the chiliasm of the fanatics which would make of the kingdom of Christ a purely temporal and transient one. Calvin sees in chiliasm a deceptive fantasy by means of which Satan began to corrupt the Christian hope soon after apostolic times. “I dismiss the notion that Satan began already in the time of Paul to ruin this hope … But shortly afterwards the Chiliasts arose who fixed and narrowed the conception of Christ’s kingdom as being of a thousand years duration.”

To be continued 

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‘Your Dead Kids Don’t Trump My Constitutional Rights’

What a heartless, stupid man. Maybe I’m alone in struggling to keep the ‘mind and heart of Christ’ when reading things like this… if so, pray for me.

Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, insisted the deaths of innocent people “don’t trump” his constitutional rights in an open letter to the families of victims in Friday’s shooting rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Wurzelbacher’s letter was published on Barbwire Monday, days after one shooting victim’s father blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians” and the National Rifle Association for his son’s death.

Wurzelbacher said the words of Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Martinez was a victim in Friday’s incident, “will be exploited by gun-grab extremists as are all tragedies involving gun violence and the mentally ill by the anti-Second Amendment Left.” The former Congressional candidate told Martinez to “back off.”

Wurzelbacher said his letter is directed “only to the families of the gunshot victims in Santa Barbara” and not to the families of three who were stabbed ahead of the shooting spree.

“I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But: As harsh as this sounds — your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights,” Wurzelbacher wrote.

Joe The Plumber: ‘Your Dead Kids Don’t Trump My Constitutional Rights’ To Have Guns

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An Examination of Dispensationalism by William E. Cox (2)

Not sure if anyone has had a chance to look over or read part (1) but a couple things the author mentions really bears pointing out. The first being the relative newness of the theology known as Dispensationalism and that it’s original promoters never attempted to deny this, but instead attempted to explain this away by claiming Dispensationalism was comprised of “rediscovered truths” which had been lost sight of since the days of the apostles. This claim does not hold water: There is no biblical (or historical) evidence of the Apostles ever holding to the controversial doctrines which comprise Dispensationalism. And obviously, one cannot “rediscover” something which never existed in the first place. 

One other thing the author pointed out, I believe is vitally important. That being, the “place” the Church was in at the time dispensationalism was introduced. 

Before examining the beliefs of the dispensationalists, which differ so radically from the historic Christian teachings, let us satisfy our curiosity as to how these radical changes in doctrine could gain such wide influence, even breaking across denominational lines and flying in the face of accepted creeds. I believe the answer to this dilemma can be gained by taking the spiritual pulse of Darby’s generation.

A study of the early nineteenth century reveals that doctrinal preaching was all but unheard of, and any emphasis on the second coming of our Lord was held up to ridicule by the clergy. Liberalism was in vogue, and lethargy had crept into the churches. The pulpits were filled with “professional” clergymen, and the people were “like sheep without a shepherd.” Lay-people were being spiritually starved. They longed for some sure word of prophecy, but heard only horns without certain sounds from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday. In a climate such as this a natural by-product would be almost total ignorance with reference to things taught in the Bible.

It is not surprising that into such a spiritual vacuum there should arise, not only Darbyism, but all sorts of innovations.

The Mormons were teaching chiliasm (millennialism) about the (same) time of John Darby. Joseph Smith put out a book (Book of Mormon) in 1830, the same year which is recognized as marking the recognition of Darby as a leader among the Brethren. Smith, like Darby, taught a regathering of Israel. In 1831 William Miller (the founder of Adventism) began proclaiming his “findings.” Miller set 1843 as the time the world would come to an end. Many of his followers sold their possessions and put on their robes to await the Lord’s return. Judge Rutherford wrote a book entitled Comfort for the Jews. Rutherford was the successor to Charles Taze Russell, who founded Millennial Dawnism around 1880. Russell published his works beginning in 1881, the year before Darby’s death. Rutherford’s group has been known as “International Bible Students,” “Russellites,” and is best known to us today as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Their fantastic millennial theories are well known and need to elaboration here.

The spiritual climate not only accounts for the ready acceptance of Darbyism, but it also lends insight into the direction taken by these “rediscovered truths.”

The Brethren teachings, with their emphasis on prophecy and the second coming of Christ, met a need in the lives of the spiritually-starved people of that generation. It is not difficult to replace a vacuum! We should not be surprised that Darbyism met with a ready response in such surroundings, neither should we be surprised if the people of that generation, with their lack of biblical teachings, passed all of Darby’s spiritual “legislation” even though many of the bills in his legislation contained “riders” (strange innovations).

This picture of the Church’s condition prior to Darby appearing on the scene with his “rediscovered truths”, should give us all pause. It certainly does me. Can you see any comparison to the spiritual condition of the Church in Darby’s day to the Church today?  This picture of the spiritual condition of the Church in “Darby-days” came to mind earlier today when I read this from Timothy Weber, 

The Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series are simply a fictionalized version of Dispensationalism: To read these fictionalized novels is to understand Dispensationalist beliefs and doctrines.

And like the Scofield Bible with personal notes, based upon Darby’s “rediscovered truths”, the novels were eagerly accepted by millions of Christians as a biblically faithful interpretation of Bible prophecy concerning the last days.

Moving on…

The author William Cox, next goes on to explain C. I. Scofield’s role, and as the earlier post (See, Why I Left Scofieldism) covered this extensively, we’ll skip over section III and go to section IV: 

IV – DISPENSATIONALIST BELIEFS: SALVATION

Dispensationalists derive their name from their teaching that the entire program of God is divided into seven dispensations. Five of these have passed into history, we are living in the sixth, and the seventh dispensation will be an earthly reign of one thousand years (the millennium) following the rapture of the church. Although the word “dispensational” literally means a stewardship or type of economy, they take it to designate a given period of time during which God works in a distinct manner with mankind.

The Scofield Bible (page 5, notes 4, 5) deals with the seven dispensations of their system. They are innocency, conscience, human government, promise, law, grace, and kingdom. According to Scofield, each of these dispensations begins a new and distinct method of testing mankind and each ends in man’s failure and judgment. One of the main emphases of dispensational thought is that they insist that each of these seven dispensations has its peculiar system of testing; and obedience to the existing method brings the approval of God upon the individual or nation being tested.

Although dispensationalists deny the charge, it has been said that these alleged seven distinct manners of testing create seven different plans of salvation. Certainly Cyrus Ingerson Scofield carried water on both shoulders at this point, saying in some places that all people are saved in the same manner, but indicating in others that salvation was gained in a different manner during each of the seven periods.

An example of his dual plans of salvation is found in the Scofield Bible (page 1115, note 2) where he is contrasting the dispensation of law with that of grace.

“The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ …”

It is difficult to interpret this statement in any other way than that he was saying folk under the law were saved by one “condition” while we under grace are saved by another “condition.” His words, “no longer,” indicate that there was a time when legal obedience was the means of salvation!

Lewis Sperry Chafer (founder of Dallas Theological Seminary), another prominent leader among the dispensationalists, also in his insistence on a complete isolation of the New Testament dispensation from that of the Old Testament, actually teaches two different plans of salvation. Writing in Dispensationalism (. 416), he makes the following statement:

The essential elements of a grace administration –  faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God, unmerited acceptance through a perfect standing in Christ, the present possession of eternal life, an absolute security from all condemnation, and the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit are not found in the kingdom administration. On the other hand, it is declared to be the fulfilling of “the law and the prophets” (Matt. 5:17, 18; 7:12), and is seen to be an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation …

When this paragraph by Chafer is broken down into its component parts, the following points can be distinguished clearly: (1) he gives the characteristics, including “faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God,” of the present “dispensation”; (2) he says the alleged coming “dispensation” (millennium) will operate under a different plan, since none of the above mentioned characteristics (note that this would include the mode of salvation) ” are to be found in the kingdom administration”: (3) he says that the alleged coming millennial kingdom will be a continuation of the Old Testament plan, i.e., “it is declared to be the fulfilling of the law and the prophets.”

From these three points a syllogism can be formed easily. The syllogism would be as follows:

1. In the present dispensation, we have “faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God …”

2. In the coming kingdom administration, this plan will not be in effect. They “are not found in the kingdom administration.” Since, according to the dispensationalists, people will be saved during the millennium, they must of necessity be saved in some other manner than “faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God.”

3. Therefore, inasmuch as the coming dispensation will be “an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation,” the people under the Mosaic Law also were saved in a manner different from the present dispensation.

Chafer’s argument could also be illustrated as:

  • Old Testament: Salvation by legal obedience (In effect until the Cross)
  • Church age: Salvation by grace alone (Legal obedience postponed)
  • Kingdom age: Legal obedience resumed (On a more perfect basis)

In another book (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p. 70) Chafer again distinguishes between two different modes of salvation:

In the light of these seven “present truth” realities we are enabled to recognize how great is the effect of the change from “the law which came by Moses” and “grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ.” And when these changed, age-long conditions have run their course we are assured that there will be a return to the legal kingdom grounds and the exaltation of that nation to whom pertain the covenants and promises (italics mine).

It should be noted, in view of the above statement, that if there is to be a return to a certain means of salvation, then another means of salvation must of necessity be in operation at the present time.

In a further effort to portray distinct groups being dealt with in distinct ways in given periods of time, dispensationalists teach that there are four gospels to be preached (some have already been preached, and one is being preached in the present age) according to God’s plan. Each of these is said to be for a given period of time and great pains are taken to establish the fact that each of these gospels is different from the other three.

These four gospels are described on page 1343 of the Scofield Reference Bible. The following is a paraphrased description as given by C.I. Scofield:

1. The gospel of the kingdom. This is the preaching of the good news that God had promised to set up an earthly kingdom. This kingdom was to be political, spiritual, Israelitish, universal; and was to be ruled over by Jesus as the greater Son of David. It was to last one thousand years.

2. The gospel of the grace of God. This is the good news that Jesus died, was buried, and that he rose again. Scofield says that one of the main characteristics of this gospel is that it saved “wholly apart from forms and ordinances,” the plain implication being that this is not true of some of the other three gospels.

3. The everlasting gospel. This is to be preached by Jews after the church is raptured, but before the beginning of the millennium. Scofield says of this gospel that it is neither the gospel of the kingdom, nor of grace. It is the good news that those who were saved during the “great tribulation” will enter the millennial reign.

4. That which Paul calls “my gospel.” This is the gospel of grace, but has a fuller development than that preached by Christ and the apostles! Paul has been given new insight into the “mystery” of the church and this is included in “Paul’s gospel.”

According to this theory of four gospels, the first of them was preached by John the Baptist and by our Lord, until the proffered kingdom was rejected by the Jews and had to be postponed while the church age was ushered in by the death of our Lord on the cross.

After his plan to establish a kingdom was frustrated by the Jews, our Lord changed to the second form of the gospel and began to preach that he would be crucified, buried, and resurrected. This gospel was preached by our Lord during the remainder of his ministry and then by the apostles until the time of Paul.

Upon receiving a fuller revelation concerning the church, which neither Jesus nor any of the other apostles had been permitted to disclose, Paul began to preach number four of the distinctive gospels held by dispensationalism. In other words, what Paul termed “my gospel” was quite an improvement over that preached by our Lord. This is the same gospel, according to this theory, that we are supposed to preach today. *Note, we are not to preach the gospel preached by our Lord, but that which was preached by Paul.

Number three of these gospels will not be preached until after the present “church age” is ended and the church has been taken out of the world. Then, after the “everlasting gospel” has been preached and the millennium established, Jewish converts will begin to preach the “gospel of the kingdom” again. *Note that this gospel of the kingdom is the first gospel preached by our Lord, which gospel was rejected and then postponed. Whereas our Lord failed in his presentation of it, the Jewish nation is going to succeed!

In view of the fact that this theory holds to four distinct gospels, each having its own characteristics differing from the others, and in view of the fact that each one is said to bring about salvation, it is difficult indeed to escape a doctrine of four plans of salvation.

And this, according to the New Testament, amounts to heresy.

V – DISPENSATIONALIST BELIEFS: THE SCRIPTURES (LITERALISM)

In keeping with dispensationalist views on the completely separate dispensations, the Scriptures are said to have been given dispensationally, i.e., different passages of the Bible are directed to different dispensations. Unless one interprets each passage of Scripture dispensationally, one is in a hopeless quandary and can never expect to understand the Bible. Scofield (What Do the Prophets Say?, p. 9) offered II Peter 1:20 as a proof-text for this method of interpretation. Having quoted the verse, Scofield went on to say,

“That is, no prophecy is to be interpreted by itself, but in harmony with the whole body of prediction on any given subject.”

An examination of the verse in question will reveal that the interpretation placed on it by Scofield is equally as arbitrary as his so-called dispensations.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (11 Peter 1:20-21).

When the verse is examined in its setting it is soon discovered that Peter was not even speaking of how Scripture should be interpreted, but rather he was speaking of how prophecy was given. Whereas Scofield has Peter saying that “no prophecy is to be interpreted privately,” what Peter actually said was that “no prophet wrote down his own private interpretations, but that he (the prophet) spoke only what the Holy Spirit moved him to write.” Peter said this to indicate the authority of the Bible, not its interpretation.

Dispensationalists not only divide the Scriptures into seven compartments with relation to time, they also divide them according to the people being dealt with.

They say that the Bible itself divides mankind into three distinct groups and then proceeds to address these groups separately. This theory is based on 1 Corinthians 10:32 alone. One verse of scripture, they say, may be addressed by the Holy Spirit to Gentiles, while the very next verse may be addressing Jews. It can readily be seen how difficult it is to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” dispensationally. In order to gain a correct understanding one would need to take all the individual verses of the Bible and assign each verse to one of three categories; Jew, Gentile, or Christian. If this be the correct method of dividing the Word, then someone could perform a genuine service by publishing the Bible in three separate sections! Dispensationalists, in effect, do so divide the Bible.

Chafer (Dispensationalism, p. 34) teaches that the only scriptures addressed specifically to Christians are the Gospel of John (especially the upper room discourse), the book of Acts, and the Epistles!

Obviously, this arbitrary and reckless division of the Bible into three compartments is an attempt to minimize the place of the church and to elevate the place of national Israel in the Bible. One example of how they take passages historically attributed to the church and assign them to Israel can be seen in a statement by William L. Pettingill (Bible Questions Answered, p. 112)

I have long been convinced, and have taught that the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19, 20 is primarily applicable to the Kingdom rather than to the Church … The Matthew commission will come into force for the Jewish Remnant after the Church is caught away.

Pettingill was an ardent defender of the Scofield Bible, and served as dean of the Bible school in Philadelphia, which was founded and presided over by C.I. Scofield himself. This group also taught that Christians ought not pray the Lord’s Prayer, since it was a Jewish prayer and was to be prayed by Jews in a later age.

Dispensationalists boast of literal interpretation of Scripture, and cast aspersions at those who “spiritualize” some passages of the Bible. Charles C. Ryrie, President of The Philadelphia College of the Bible, says: (Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 114, July 1957, p. 254), “… only dispensationalism provides the key to consistent literalism”.

In the Old Testament, where they spend most of their time, the Darbyites cannot arbitrarily say: “Oh, but that passage was to the church, while this other one is to the Israelites.” They can do this arbitrary maneuvering in the New Testament, but they have narrowed their own field in the Old Testament by insisting that the Christian church is not alluded to therein.

Isaiah prophesied that the mountains shall sing and the trees clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). Is this to be taken literally? In Micah 6:1 God invites his people to carry on a conversation with a mountain. Literally? In Joel 3:18 a prophecy is recorded in which God states that “the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk.” Must this be taken literally, or was the Lord speaking figuratively? In Hosea 2:18 God says that he will some day make a covenant for his people between the beasts of the fields, with the fowl of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground. Will this literally happen?

Daniel predicted that the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 would be accomplished by a flood (Daniel 9:26). This did not happen literally. Was Daniel mistaken? Or did he not rather speak spiritually or figuratively and mean that the city would be flooded with the soldiers of Titus? This latter alternative did happen. The literal interpretation insisted upon would make the biblical account untrue!

Coming to the New Testament the strict dispensationalist still insists upon literal interpretations for each and every passage concerning Israel. Zechariah prophesied that Christ would stand on two mountains (Mount Olivet being divided in two).

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south (Zechariah 14:4).

Surely this could not be the “same Jesus” who was seen ascending up to heaven as recorded in Acts 1:11 and of whom it was said that “this same Jesus” would come in like manner as he was seen to go away. The body that our Lord had then would not be large enough to span two mountains. Now this is not an attempt to be facetious, and it is agreed by all that God is capable of giving Christ a body large enough to span two mountains with one foot resting on each mountain. Yes, this is possible, but it does not seem likely that God will make such a drastic change. And if the dispensationalist hastens to say that these passages are speaking of spiritual things, then he destroys his own argument.

A thoroughly literal (only) interpretation of Scripture is impossible. To quote Dr. Allis:

The language of the Bible often contains figures of speech. This is especially true of poetry. In Exodus XIV: 21 Moses declares that the Lord caused the sea to go back by reason of a “strong east wind.” In his song of triumph Moses exultantly declares: “and with the blast of they nostrils the waters were gathered together” (XV:8). In XIX:4, on the other hand, the Lord reminds Israel through Moses: “I bare you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.” No one with any real reverence for Scripture or adequate understanding of its teachings as a whole, would dream of taking either of the last two statements literally. In the poetry of Psalms in the elevated style of prophecy, and evening simple historical narration, figures of speech appear which obviously are not meant to be and cannot be understood literally.

The great theme of the Bible is God, and His redemptive dealings with mankind. God is a spirit; and these spiritual and heavenly realities are often set forth under the form of earthly objects and human relationships. When Jesus said, “Ye must be born again,” He was not referring to a physical bur a spiritual birth. When He said, “Destroy this temple,” He meant His body. When He said, “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life,” He was speaking of a spiritual relationship in terms of the Old Testament type. Jesus’ Jewish hearers, being literalists, either failed to understand or misunderstood His words. Whether the figurative or “spiritual” interpretation of a given passage is justified or not depends solely upon whether it gives the true meaning. If it is used to empty words of their plain and obvious meaning, to read out of them what is clearly intended by them, then allegorizing or spiritualizing is a term of reproach which is well merited. On the other hand, we should remember the saying of the apostle, that spiritual things are “spiritually discerned.” And spiritual things are more real and more precious then visible, tangible, ephemeral things. (Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, pp. 17, 18)

and as Barrows has well said:

The youthful student of Scripture should be reminded, first of all, that its figurative language is no less certain and truthful than its plain and literal declarations. The figures of the Bible are employed not simply to please the imagination and excite the feelings, but to teach eternal verities (E.P. Barrows, Companion to the Bible, p. 557).

As one studies the Scriptures and tries to “rightly divide the Word of Truth,” it seems evident that the following conclusions must be arrived at concerning the covenants and prophecies of God with his people:

Some were meant to be literal, others were meant to be spiritual; some were meant to be historical, others to be eschatological; some were addressed to natural descendants (national Israel), others were addressed to spiritual descendants (all believers; compare Gal. 6:16). Our difficulties arise when students of the Bible attempt to force a literal meaning into a spiritual prophecy, or an eschatological interpretation into a prediction which has been historically fulfilled already, or when they try to apply spiritual promises to natural Israelites to the exclusion of other nations.

It is theological pandemonium to attempt to take an “either-or” approach to all scriptures. One must recognize both literal and spiritual descendants. Only then will one “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” To be sure, this requires intellectual honesty; and all of us should admit that we are not unequivocally certain on every point as to which is meant.

Although hyperliteralism is one of the basic teachings of dispensationalists, they by no means hold a monopoly on it. Many groups within the Christian faith have resorted to a hyperliteral interpretation of Scripture in order to gain their point.

We can best criticize the literalists by saying that none really exist! Their greatest inconsistency lies in the fact that all of them at one time or another interpret some passages of the Bible in a figurative or spiritual manner. Let us begin with the leader himself, John Nelson Darby, who founded modern dispensationalism upon a so-called literal interpretation of the Bible, who has left us the following statement, made while he was at the height of his popularity as one who interpreted the Scriptures (especially prophecy) literally;

The resurrection (in Daniel 12:2) applies to the Jews … It is a figurative resurrection of the people, buried as a nation among the Gentiles. In this revival it is said of those who rise: “Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This is what will happen to the Jews. Of those brought out from among the nations, some will enjoy eternal life, but some shall be subject to shame and everlasting contempt

Charles C. Ryrie is another dispensationalist who castigates other Christians for “spiritualizing” Scripture, but then takes the same liberties himself as the occasion arises. He says, (The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, p. 35):

“The system of spiritualizing Scripture is a tacit denial of the doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures which this author holds.”

Note that this blanket statement demands literal interpretation of all Scripture. Ryrie shows his inconsistencies on this dictum of literalism at many points in this same book. In chapter 3, on his rules of hermeneutics, he says: “The figures for which figurative language stand have a literal fulfillment.” He speaks also of the special principles of interpretation used by premillennialists in interpreting prophecy. In speaking of interpretation versus application, he says (page 42) “Literal interpretation allows wide latitude in making spiritual applications from all passages …”

On this same page this avowed “literalist” says: “Although much of prophecy is given in plain terms, much of it is in figurative language, and constitutes a problem of interpretation.” He goes on to say that there are different ways to apply this figurative language:

“The use of types (by premillennialists) is perfectly legitimate as illustration of the truth though they should not be used to teach doctrine” (p. 43). Then, on page 44, Ryrie says: “In conclusion it may be stated that in connection with the use of figurative language, the interpreter should not look for the literal sense of the words employed in the figure, but for the literal sense intended by the use of the figure” .

It is amusing indeed to have read, just a few pages before, that this man called any and all “spiritualizing” a tacit denial of the Bible. Then he goes on to say that it is necessary for his school of thought to devise “special principals of interpretation,” to determine when a doctrine is involved in a given passage, and even to decide what was ‘intended” by each given writer’s language. This is literalism?

Examples could be heaped upon one another showing outstanding dispensationalists, like those mentioned above, who violate their own dictum of literalism. However, one last example must suffice at this time. On page 1009 of the Scofield Bible (note 1) we have a glaring example of the liberties taken in interpretation. The footnote has to do with chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel. That this entire chapter was addressed specifically to the twelve disciples there can be no argument. Chapter 10 begins with these words:

“And when he had called unto him is twelve disciples …” Having called these disciples unto himself, our Lord gave them instructions for their personal ministry. Then, to prove to ourselves that the entire chapter was addressed to these twelve, chapter 11 begins with the words: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples …” So that, throughout chapter 10, Jesus is addressing his remarks to his twelve disciples.

Scofield, however, as is typical of his entire collection of footnotes, looks into the mind of Jesus and sees there many meanings which were not recorded anywhere in the Bible! For Scofield tells his readers that verses 16-23 of this tenth chapter of Matthew reaches far beyond the personal ministry of the twelve disciples, covering the sphere of our present age. And whereas Jesus, in verse 23, said specifically to his twelve apostles “when they persecute you … Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel until I shall join you …,” Scofield says of this verse that Jesus really had in view the preaching ministry of a remnant of Jews who would be preaching during a time of tribulation after the church is raptured.

And whereas the average reader would gain the impression that Jesus was saying (in Matthew 10:23) that he would join his twelve apostles before their ministry had covered all the cities of Israel, Scofield informs his readers that this did not even refer to the ministry of those twelve – whom a literal reading would have Jesus addressing: but that it really refers to a group of Jews who will be preaching a different gospel after this present gospel period has closed.

And all of this is by the pen of a man who has done more, perhaps, than any other individual, to impress upon people that the Bible should be taken literally, “just as it reads”.

*To be continued with Part (3) –  Dispensationalist Beliefs – Israel and The Kingdom of God

1 Comment

An Examination of Dispensationalism by William E. Cox (1)

This message is rather lengthy so it will be broken up into at least 2-3 posts, possibly more.

The author, William E. Cox, who also wrote the earlier posted message (Why I Left Scofieldism) does an excellent and fair job of explaining Dispensationalism; it’s origin, beliefs, impact, etc. in the message below. The main reason I want to share this is it’s come to me over the years that there is a rather large segment of believers who claim to be dispensationalists, who don’t really know what (all) dispensationalism entails. To be frank, all the years (over 25) I went around stating, when asked, “why yes, I’m a dispensationalist”, my knowledge of what that really meant was very limited.  It wasn’t until a few people began posting a number of dispensationalist beliefs at a discussion forum I frequented that I realized how little I really knew about it. And as most of you already know, once digging into many of the hard-core beliefs the more appalled I became, for the Word didn’t agree with many of the doctrines within this theology, at all. 

Even if you don’t think this may interest you, my hope is you will still check it out: If for no other reason then Dispensationalism has and does (still) play a huge role in Church history, especially in the West (Great Britain and The United States).

Lastly and more importantly we’re to test all things against the Word of God,  1 Thess 5:21-22 as did the noble Bereans,  Acts 17:11

 An Examination of Dispensationalism

This book is sent forth, prayerfully, in the scriptural attitude of “Come, let us reason together.” It is written by one who, for a number of years was a dispensationalist. My entire background, from the time of my conversion at age sixteen until long after my call to the ministry, was one in which the Notes of the Scofield Reference Bible were looked on as being the final authority in any theological discussion. It was only after much doubt and searching of the Scriptures that I was constrained to leave such a fascinating school of interpretation.

Nor is this written in order to attack any person or group. Rather, it is written to enlighten, and to encourage a study of the Bible on a subject which demands the attention of every interested Christian. I have many close friends who remain in the dispensational school, friends whom I respect and love in the Lord. These friends know me as a very conservative evangelical preacher….  I believe very definitely in predictive prophecy, and accept the entire Bible, without apology, as the infallible Word of God.

In my book, The New-Covenant Israel, futurism and dispensationalism were treated as though they were synonymous terms. The scope of that book would not have permitted a more detailed distinction. While futurism is restricted for the most part to national Israel, dispensationalism covers a much broader field. Therefore, it seems important that a separate book be devoted to dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism holds many beliefs in common with both futurism and premillennialism. Each of the three schools, however, hold some beliefs distinctive to itself. To discuss every teaching held by the different groups of dispensationalists would require a book within itself, because of the many ramifications of dispensational teachings. For example, Jesse Wilson Hodges (Christ’s Kingdom and Coming, pp. 34-39) lists twenty-seven distinct dispensational teachings, and by no means covers the field. It shall be our purpose to deal with the more cardinal doctrines of dispensationalism. Many of their minor points will be covered under the larger headings.

Dispensationalism, although a comparatively new doctrine, is put forth arrogantly as the only true approach to Bible study and interpretation. And, while this belief is that of only a small minority of Christians, those who do not go along with it are often castigated as liberals. Although no major denomination, to my knowledge, sanctions either dispensationalism or the Scofield Reference Bible, serious divisions have been caused in just about every major denomination by both. An Examination of Dispensationalism is sent forth, not as an attack against dispensationalists, but rather as a defense of the beliefs and integrity of the great majority of Christians on this particular subject. The beliefs defended in this book are sincerely looked upon by this writer as being the faith once delivered to the saints and recorded in the New Testament. Our paramount concern throughout the book is: “What saith the scripture?” (Romans 4:3)

The book is written for laymen and ministers alike. Technical theological language has been kept to a minimum. Scholarliness is claimed neither for the writer nor for the book. It is hoped that the work will serve a useful purpose in view of the increased theological interest among laymen. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture passages are from the American Standard Version of the Bible published in 1901 by Thomas Nelson & Sons.

I – DISPENSATIONALISM

Dispensationalism, as we know it today, had its beginning with the Brethren movement, which became prominent around 1830. This group came to be known as “Plymouth Brethren,” because their publications centered in Plymouth, England. Ever since the days of John Nelson Darby, dispensationalists have been prolific writers, and their works are in abundance today.

The Brethren movement constituted a radical change from the historic teachings of Christianity. This group claimed to have “rediscovered truths” which had been lost sight of since the days of the apostles. Although the Plymouth Brethren are a very small sect, their “rediscovered truths” are to be found in nearly every Christian denomination. This is mostly because of the great influence of the Scofield Reference Bible, which was written to perpetuate these views after Scofield had come under the influence of Darby. Over two million copies of the “Bible” have been sold since its publication in 1909.

According to Oswald T. Allis (Prophecy and the Church), W.E. Blackstone’s book, Jesus is Coming, also did much to spread the Brethren views among Christians in America. Several hundred thousand copies of this book were mailed out gratis to Christian workers during the early part of this century.

The Brethren boasted, from their very beginning in the nineteenth century, that their teachings represented a wide departure from the doctrines of their predecessors and contemporaries. According to them, all the prominent commentaries, all the church fathers, and even the Reformers, were deluded by “man-made doctrines,” while only the Brethren were subject to and submissive to the Bible as the Word of God. That this superior attitude has not changed in our day is evident from the following quotations from dispensationalists.

In a recent book (When the King Comes Back, pp. 13, 14) Oswald J. Smith, in one sweeping statement, attempts to discredit all major commentaries because these commentaries are not in agreement with his views:

I know very few of the old commentaries that are trustworthy when it comes to prophecy. Nearly all of them spiritualize the predictions of the Old Testament prophets and confuse the kingdom with the Church. Hence their interpretations are worthless.

Having quoted Isaiah 11:1-13; 12:1-6 (on page 63 of the same book), Smith says of these passages:

None of it was fulfilled at the first advent, and none of it can be spiritualized, for it has no fulfillment in the Church, in spite of what the great commentators say. God did not see fit to enlighten them .

The Scofield Bible also cautions its readers that its teachings are the opposite of those of historic Christianity, those historic teachings being untrustworthy. The reader is told that as he studies the Gospels he must free his mind from the beliefs that the church is the true Israel, and that the Old Testament foreview of the kingdom is fulfilled in the church. Scofield admitted that this belief was “a legacy of Protestant thought” (p. 989).

In speaking of the dispensational teaching that the church was not prophesied in the Old Testament, Harry A. Ironside (Mysteries of God, p. 50) boasts of the fact that this teaching was non-existent until introduced by John Darby in the nineteenth century.

In fact, until brought to the fore, through the writings and preaching of a distinguished ex-clergyman, Mr. J. N. Darby, in the early part of the last century, it is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon through a period of 1600 years! If any doubt this statement, let them search, as the writer has in a measure done, the remarks of the so-called Fathers, both pre and post-Nicene, the theological treatises of the scholastic divines, Roman Catholic writers of all shades of thought; the literature of the Reformation; the sermons and expositions of the Puritans; and the general theological works of the day. He will find the “mystery” conspicuous by its absence.

Writing in the introduction of a book by Lewis Sperry Chafer (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p. 5) Scofield said:

Protestant theology has very generally taught that all the kingdom promise, and ever the great Davidic covenant itself, are to be fulfilled in and through the Church. The confusion thus created has been still further darkened by the failure to distinguish the different phases of the kingdom truth indicated by the expression “kingdom of Heaven,” and “kingdom of God.”

John Walvoord, in an article in Bibliotheca Sacra (Jan.-Mar., 1951 p. 11) points up the fact that his millennial thinking is a departure from that of the great Reformation theologians.

Reformed-eschatology has been predominantly Amillennial. Most if not all the leaders of the Protestant Reformation were Amillennial in their eschatology, following the teachings of Augustine.

These quotations serve to prove at least two things concerning dispensational theologians:

(1) their actual contempt for the thinking of historic Christian theologians, and

(2) the fact that dispensational doctrines (note especially their teaching that the church is separate from Israel) are of comparatively recent origin.

Present-day dispensationalists are of necessity premillennialists. The doctrine of premillennialsim, however, is much older than the doctrine dispensationalism. Historic premillennialism can be traced back to the early post-apostolic history of the church, while, as stated before, modern dispensationalism originated in the early nineteenth century. Historic premillennialsim had no teaching whatsoever of a future hope for Israel outside the church; such a separate future hope for Israel is the main teaching in modern dispensationalism. Oswald T. Allis (Prophecy and the Church, pp. 8-9) lists nine features of dispensationalism and goes on to state correctly that not more than two of these were held by historic premillennialsim.

Historic premillennialsim could be defined simply as the belief, based on an interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, that there will be an earthly reign of Christ following his second coming. This was believed to be a perfect peaceful reign, during which time perfect laws, justice, and tranquility were to prevail because Satan would be bound and therefore unable to lead people into sinful pursuits. This school of thought held that there would be two resurrections, which were to be separated by a period of one thousand years. At the first resurrection all saints would be rewarded; at the second all the unsaved would be judged and punished. Every believer of every age was to be resurrected at the first resurrection, and every believer (having been made a part of the church) would take part in the earthly reign of Christ.

So it is unfair and untrue for modern dispensationalists to claim to be the champions of premillennialsim. While all dispensationalists are of necessity premillennialists and futurists, it does not follow that all premillennialists, nor even all futurists, are dispensationalists. Both dispensationalism and futurism are merely recent additions (and foreign elements at that) to historic premillennialism. Both new theories seem to have originated during the nineteenth century.

Before examining the beliefs of the dispensationalists, which differ so radically from the historic Christian teachings, let us satisfy our curiosity as to how these radical changes in doctrine could gain such wide influence, even breaking across denominational lines and flying in the face of accepted creeds. I believe the answer to this dilemma can be gained by taking the spiritual pulse of Darby’s generation.

A study of the early nineteenth century reveals that doctrinal preaching was all but unheard of, and any emphasis on the second coming of our Lord was held up to ridicule by the clergy. Liberalism was in vogue, and lethargy had crept into the churches. The pulpits were filled with “professional” clergymen, and the people were “like sheep without a shepherd.” Lay-people were being spiritually starved. They longed for some sure word of prophecy, but heard only horns without certain sounds from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday. In a climate such as this a natural by-product would be almost total ignorance with reference to things taught in the Bible. It was into such an incubator as this that Brethrenism was born.

It is not surprising that into such a spiritual vacuum there should arise, not only Darbyism, but all sorts of innovations. The Mormons were teaching chiliasm (millennialism) about the time of John Darby. Joseph Smith put out a book (Book of Mormon) in 1830; the same year which is recognized as marking the recognition of Darby as a leader among the Brethren. Smith, like Darby, taught a regathering of Israel. In 1831 William Miller (the founder of Adventism) began proclaiming his “findings.” Miller set 1843 as the time the world would come to an end. Many of his followers sold their possessions and put on their robes to await the Lord’s return. Judge Rutherford wrote a book entitled Comfort for the Jews. Rutherford was the successor to Charles Taze Russell, who founded Millennial Dawnism around 1880. Russell published his works beginning in 1881, the year before Darby’s death. Rutherford’s group has been known as “International Bible Students,” “Russellites,” and is best known to us today as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Their fantastic millennial theories are well known and need no elaboration here.

The spiritual climate not only accounts for the ready acceptance of Darbyism, but it also lends insight into the direction taken by these “rediscovered truths.”

The Brethren teachings, with their emphasis on prophecy and the second coming of Christ, met a need in the lives of the spiritually-starved people of that generation. It is not difficult to replace a vacuum! If we should not be surprised that Darbyism met with a ready response in such surroundings, neither should we be surprised if the people of that generation, with their lack of biblical teaching, passed all of Darby’s spiritual “legislation” even though many of the bills in his legislation contained “riders” (strange innovations). Darby not only returned to the faith once delivered to the saints, which admittedly had been discarded and needed to be recovered, but he went far beyond that faith, bringing in many teachings of his own, which were never heard of until he brought them forth. The words of Lewis Sperry Chafer, himself an outstanding dispensationalist, would seem to be very appropriate at this point (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p.14): “Satan’s lies are always garnished with truth and how much more attractive they seem to be when that garnishing is a neglected truth!”

II – JOHN DARBY

It is impossible to understand fully the dispensational view of eschatology apart from some history of its origin and main spokesmen. Biographers of John Darby refer to him as the father of modern dispensationalism.

Around 1825 many dissenting groups were beginning to pull away from the established churches in different parts of Europe. The three paramount centers seem to have been Dublin, Ireland, and Plymouth and Bristol in England. The leaders of this movement recognized the pen as being “mightier than the sword,” and turned out an abundance of literature publicizing their new beliefs. Darby referred to the church as “the Brethren.” The headquarters for the printing of the Brethren was in Plymouth. Thus, it followed naturally for this new denomination to be called Plymouth Brethren, and the name stuck.

Darby was not the founder of the Brethren movement, although he became its dominant leader and shaped its history. Even though there were many great names associated with the movement, they all were dwarfed, and his name continues in the minds of friend and foe alike. By 1830 he was in complete control of the movement and definitely shaped its dispensational doctrines. That his leadership was unshakable is evident from the fact that, although he made many bitter enemies among the founders of the movement, no man was able to unseat him. Many indeed tried, but themselves were forced either to buckle to Darby or leave the group.

The “father of modern dispensationalism” was born John Nelson Darby in Ireland, in the year 1800, and died in 1882. He was an honor student in Westminster and Trinity college, where he studied law. He was a successful lawyer until the age of twenty-seven, at which time he gave up his law practice to become a curate in the Church of England. He followed this profession until the time he joined the Brethren movement about 1827.

Darby’s biographers say he was eccentric, homely, crippled, and had a deformed face, yet that he possessed a magnetic personality and a keen organizing ability. The man was indefatigable, having been known to travel, it is said, for days while living on acorns. He came from a family background of education, culture, and social standing. He apparently was blessed with a keen mind. William Blair Neatby, who was critical of the movement headed by Darby, described him (A History of the Plymouth Brethren, p. 192) as follows:

No doubt Darby had many perfectly intelligible titles to success. His attainments were great and varied, apart from his classical and theological scholarship. He could write and speak in several modern languages, and translated the whole Bible into French and German.

While convalescing from injuries received when his horse threw him, Darby was convinced of the authority of Scripture and the importance of prophetic teachings. He was especially impressed by the thirty-second chapter of Isaiah, which he referred to as describing, “a state of things in no way established as yet.”

In spite of his belief in the authority of the Scriptures, Darby retained some of his old Anglican beliefs. For example, Neatby says of him, (ibid., p. 63) “. . . Darby alone among the earlier Brethren remained a pedobaptist.”

Darby wrote into the doctrinal platform of the Brethren one innovation which still marks the dispensational school today. We refer to his disregard of and actual contempt for history. In his book, Prophecy and the Church, p. 26, Allis quotes Darby as having said:

I do not want history to tell me Nineveh or Babylon is ruined or Jerusalem in the hands of the Gentiles. I do not admit history to be, in any sense, necessary to the understanding of prophecy.

The Plymouth Brethren, when first organized, had two main distinctive:

(1) theirs was an ecumenical movement, and

(2) they sought to do away with an ordained clergy and anything which even resembled organization within the local church.

They were opposed to music or any type of ritual in the church service. Darby’s watchword, according to his biographers, was “the union of the children of God.” The Brethren frowned on ordination as constituting a man-made ministry, and the very word “Brethren” was an attempt to get away from denominationalism.

While the subject of the Lord’s second coming soon came to dominate the dispensation school, it scarcely entered into their thinking at the very first. Their two main starting aims; ecumenicity, and looseness of organization, may be seen from the following quotations.

- We should come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or ministry, but trusting that the Lord would edify us together, by ministering as He pleased, and saw good from the midst of ourselves (Thomas S. Veitch, The Brethren Movement, p. 19).

- That ordination of any kind to preach the Gospel is no requirement of Scripture (Neatby, op. cit., p. 26).

- Without any rules, desiring to act only as the Lord should be pleased to give light through His Word.

Following his break with the Church of England and his joining the Brethren movement, Darby, along with rest of the Brethren, claimed to have been given many “rediscovered truths.” These alleged truths supposedly had been taught by the apostles, then lost sight of. Even the great Reformers had not known of these doctrines. These ‘rediscovered truths” were, in fact, the direct opposite of all historic Christian teachings proclaimed by the Reformers and extant commentaries.

Notice was given to the world at large that everyone should look on all previous post-apostolic teachings as false, and that only the “rediscovered truths” of the Brethren should be embraced.

The main teachings of dispensationalism, which will be dealt with in subsequent chapters, contrasted with the historic Christian beliefs. Perhaps a summary of their beliefs would be in order at this point. The following quotation (Arnold Black Rhodes, editor, The Church Faces the Isms, p. 95) is pertinent.

In brief, the teachings of dispensationalism are as follows:

1. The Jews are to be saved by repentance; they are to be left here on earth as God’s earthly people.

2. The Gentiles are to be saved by faith; they will be taken to heaven after the Rapture.

3. The church is a parenthesis in God’s plan and will end in apostasy.

4. The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are sharply differentiated, the first being the Davidic kingdom and the latter being God’s universal world-wide kingdom.

5. God deals with men according to seven dispensations.

Dispensationalists go on to teach that, after seven years, the church will be returned to earth, where it will take part in an earthly millennium. During the millennium, according to dispensationalists, the church will have a position inferior to that of Israel. They teach that, after the millennium, the church will be returned to heaven the second time, there to spend eternity while Israel remains forever on the earth. None of this, of course, is in agreement with historic Christian beliefs.

The Brethren divided into two distinct groups after Darby came into their midst. These groups came to be known as “exclusive assemblies” and “open assemblies.” Darby was the originator of the exclusive assemblies. In 1845 he returned to Plymouth from an extended stay in Switzerland. He and a Mr. Newton, who had been the pastor at Plymouth during Darby’s long absence, had doctrinal differences. This resulted in a war in both verbal and pamphlet forms. Newton’s strong following in that particular church prevailed, and Darby “quit the assembly” with fifty or sixty members. This, according to Veitch, was the beginning of “exclusivism.” Neatby said, concerning Darby’s visit to Plymouth: “From the moment he decided to come, Brethrenism was doomed.”

When Darby withdrew from the Plymouth assembly, he formed another assembly in the same town. This marked the beginning of the so-called exclusive assemblies. Exclusives claimed that their meeting in any place was the sole “expression of the church of God” there. It was divinely recognized, nothing else was! Darby wrote to a Mr. Spurr of Sheffield in 1854 regarding the case of a Mr. Goodall: “He is rejected in London . . . I take part in this act, and hold him to be outside the church of God on earth . . .”

The exclusives formed a federation of assemblies with a Central Meeting. This was, of course, contrary to the very founding principles of Brethrenism. Darby excused this by saying they had discovered that the New Testament favored an area church. This meant that although an area such as London might have many churches, they all composed one municipal Church. The Central Meeting was set up in London. This Central Meeting decided, for all the churches, all such questions as receiving members, cutting off assemblies, and so forth. Veitch says:

These decisions were binding upon the area, and from the prestige which the London Meeting held, far beyond it. In the strong hands of Mr. Darby, the Central Meeting proved an instrument by which he controlled and dominated the assemblies. (op. cit., pp. 60, 61).

Only Darby’s strong personality held the exclusive assemblies together. Neatby says: “When Darby’s fiat ceased to be law the party was broken. When Darby died it was scattered like dust.”

Darby, throughout his career as a religious leader, was an extremely controversial individualist. Once while debating with Dwight L. Moody, Darby angrily closed his Bible and refused to continue the public debate. He castigated Newton, even though Newton issued a pamphlet apologizing for doctrinal error. When Darby, on the other hand, was told that many of his teachings were looked upon as heresy and were causing grief to many, he threatened to leave the fellowship rather than retract the teachings.

He excommunicated George Müller because Müller received members whom Darby did not approve. This in spite of the fact that these members had first been questioned by many pastors and other members. This is known as the “Bethesda Incident” to Darby’s biographers. Darby wrote a circular from Leeds on August 26, 1848, cutting off fellowship, (of) not only all Bethesda members, but also all assemblies who received any who had ever been members of Bethesda! Neatby called this circular, “A decree that was to spread strife, misery, and shame like a conflagration to the remotest bounds of Christiandom.”

Darby finally approached Müller to heal the breach over the Bethesda incident. Müller said at that time: “I have this moment only ten minutes time, having an important engagement before me, and as you have acted so wickedly in this matter I cannot now enter into it as I have no time.” These two former friends never saw each other again, and Darby continued to castigate Müller until his death.

Even some of Darby’s best friends hesitated at some of his doctrines. He was accused of heresy a number of times. One particular case was his teaching that Jesus was sometimes caused to suffer at the hand of God simply for the sake of being punished. These teachings were recorded by Darby in 1858, when he wrote on “The Suffering of Christ,” in which he stated the Lord suffered in a three-fold way. The third point was that Jesus endured sufferings at the hand of God which were non-atoning! When confronted with this teaching, Darby said it was not found in the New Testament, but in the Psalms. Darbyites today still claim to find things implied in the Old Testament which are not so much as mentioned in the New Testament.

Three things might be said in summary concerning this man with whom we differ so much:

1. He was able to do what he did only because there was a great need. One historian said of Darby: “His strength lay, now as ever, in the reality of the abuses he attacked.” The church was corrupt, the clergy unconcerned. Liberalism had all but taken over. Prophetic teachings and sermons about the second coming of Christ were almost unheard of. Multitudes of people were spiritually starved and longed for biblical preaching and a message of hope. Darby was a man of the hour, and so the people heard him gladly.

2. John Darby, and the Plymouth Brethren in general, did much good for the church of Jesus Christ. They stimulated a much-needed interest in Bible study. They exposed abuses in the church of their day. And, as time went on, they emphasized the second coming of our Lord.

3. The same thing could well be said about the Brethren and Darby that Paul said about the Judaizers of his day. They had a zeal for God, “but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). Many present-day evangelicals would agree with many of Darby’s emphases, and certainly all of us would welcome his zeal for the cause of Christ. His zealousness, however, was not always based on a knowledge of the Scriptures, and, like the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, he “erred, not knowing the Scriptures.” Yet Darby’s zeal plus his systematic legally-trained mind enabled him to carry the common people along with all he proposed. This was mostly because of the conditions that is, the lack of Bible training among the laymen, their hunger for change, the lethargic “professionalism” among the established clergy of that day, and the like.

In looking at John Nelson Darby, the “father of modern dispensationalism,” we have tried to paint the whole man, bringing out his many good points as well as what we sincerely considered to have been his many bad points as well as what we sincerely consider to have been his unscriptural teachings. The following caution (W. G. Turner, John Nelson Darby, p. 62) would seem to be an appropriate conclusion for this chapter. Darby, according to Turner:

… commands the reverence and admiration of those who recognized in him a spiritual guide. But there is always need for caution lest this admiration of a Christian leader’s intellect and spiritual qualities should be allowed to pass (unconsciously at first perhaps) into an unwarranted and dangerous deference to his authority, or even into peaceful acquiescence in all his teachings as though it were impossible for such a man to err in any point of faith or practice.

*In Part (2) we’ll look at Dispensationalist beliefs/teachings and Salvation 

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