Dispensationalism/Covenantalism Q and A

On a Facebook group, a fellow posted a list of questions he had for apologists Matt Slick of CARM and Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity ministries. The questions were primarily directed at those two men and specifically centered around the systems of Dispensationalism and Covenantalism.

I asked if I could take a shot at offering my answers and the guy who posted them said sure. I spent a couple of hours on AWANA night in the TMS library compiling my responses. Seeing that I am stalled at the moment on my KJVO book review, I thought I would create a PDF and post it here if anyone else is interested.

There were a few questions I skipped, because they were too specific with Presbyterian WCF ideas, and I’m not a Presbyterian. The subject is kind of geeky, but deals primarily how we are to interpret the Bible and the interplay between the OT and the NT.

CovenantalismDispensationalism

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8 thoughts on “Dispensationalism/Covenantalism Q and A

  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to comment on one of your responses. Note: In general I would agree with much of what you wrote, but still see a future for national Israel via the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic and New Covenants which are all interdependent, unilateral, unconditional and eternal – so Israel must still have a piece of land coming to the Jews who believe in the past and resurrected and who will believe in the future. Perhaps I misunderstood where you were coming from on this.

    Now to my point: You noted that Dispensationalism and Covenantalism are not theologies, but rather systems of hermeneutics. This is a very common error – both among dispensationalists and critics of dispensationalism.

    Dispensationalism is very definitely a system of theology and not a system of interpretive principles. As you even noted in your comments, you use a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic (i.e., normal) – and this hermeneutic is precisely what leads to dispensational theology. To interpret Scripture using dispensationalism is to be guilty of using a theological hermeneutic, which is precisely what Reformed theologians do when they cite the catechisms and confessions.

    Dave James
    Director
    The Alliance for Biblical Integrity
    http://www.biblicalintegrity.org

  2. Dave writes,
    You noted that Dispensationalism and Covenantalism are not theologies, but rather systems of hermeneutics. This is a very common error – both among dispensationalists and critics of dispensationalism.

    Thanks for posting. Before there are “theologies” there must FIRST be a system of interpretation present in order to shape the “theology” associated with it. Both Dispensationalism and Covenantalism are dependent upon similar, but divergence hermeneutics that draw the theological conclusions that identify them.

    Why would you disagree with this basic point and call it an error? Surely you must have a system of hermeneutics in place that helps you defend the integrity of the Bible. What exactly is it and how do you use it to read and study scripture?

    Continuing,
    As you even noted in your comments, you use a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic (i.e., normal) – and this hermeneutic is precisely what leads to dispensational theology. To interpret Scripture using dispensationalism is to be guilty of using a theological hermeneutic, which is precisely what Reformed theologians do when they cite the catechisms and confessions.

    Are you suggesting that the G-H hermeneutic is wrong? I understand G-H to be foundational to man’s creation. God hardwired men to think in a grammatical, historical way in order to communicate with one another and more importantly, God to man and man to God.

    Certainly you are not suggestion that we jettison historic creeds and confessions or God’s purposes as unfolded in church history? I would entirely reject that they have any authority over scripture, but they certainly help us understand how solid men who went before us understood God’s revelation as it pertains to God’s people.

    I notice Jimmy DeYoung is associated with your ministry, is he thinking about the Bible along the same lines as you? That the G-H hermeneutic is dodgy at best and not to be trusted? You aren’t coming out and saying that directly, but I get from your comment here that you think I am out in left field with what I am arguing.

  3. Fred: I would suggest that perhaps in your answer to Question #2 – “If a person rejects dispensationalism, is he logically forced to be a Covenant Theologian, or is there a third alternative?” – you could have mentioned New Covenant Theology, (John Reisinger, Tom Wells, Fred Zaspel, Jon Zens, Geoff Volker, etc.), and Progressive Covenantalism (Stephen J. Wellum and Peter J. Gentry). The published teachings of these men places them in the middle ground or gray area on the spectrum between the polarities of traditional Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology.

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