Tuesday, June 13, 2006

dispensationalism

I just finished reading the book Dispensationalism by Charles C. Ryrie. He says that dispensationalism is a system of theology that is built on three non-negotiable pillars:
1) a literal, face-value reading of Scripture.
2) the distinction between Israel and the church (i.e. the church is not the "new Israel" or the "Israel of God."
3) the purpose of history being the glory of God (as opposed to the redemption of man).

This is the 4th book I've read on dispensationalism in the past month. I'm really trying to get a handle on it. I'm drawn to the reverance with which it views Scripture. I'm challenged by the way that it interprets Old Testament prophecy literally to the point that you get a pretribulational rapture of the church, which leads to a 7-year tribulation, followed by a 1000 year earthly reign of Christ in Jerusalem, during which all of the Old Testament promises to Israel will literally be fulfilled.

Although I have no problem with the conclusions, I find it hard to believe that God would allow himself to be that predictable. On the other hand, it seems that if we can say that God will not literally fulfill every Old Testament prophecy, who's to say that Christ will literally fulfill his prophesied return at all? Without the literal approach, a slippery slope develops. But can we say that in order to avoid a slippery slope we will interpret all Scripture the same way? Just questions I'm asking and praying about. In the meantime, I feel very akin to the dispensational view as I understand it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should read some books about dispensationalism that aren't written by people who are not dispensationalists. Regarding the notion that dispensationalists believe scripture is "inherent", notice that what they really believe is that their interpretation of scripture is inherent. And their interpretation is very dubious, and in the true sense of the word, it's a very "liberal" interpretation. Liberal in the sense that they are not really interested in trying to understand what the authors meant, or to understand what was going on when it was written. Their liberally interpret scripture to mean whatever they want it to mean.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say this:
Maybe you should read some books about dispensationalism that ARE written by people who are not dispensationalists. Regarding the notion that dispensationalists believe scripture is "inherent", notice that what they really believe is that their interpretation of scripture is inherent. And their interpretation is very dubious, and in the true sense of the word, it's a very "liberal" interpretation. Liberal in the sense that they are not really interested in trying to understand what the authors meant, or to understand what was going on when it was written. Their liberally interpret scripture to mean whatever they want it to mean.

Jason Woolever said...

anonymous, i hear what you are saying. most of this book is written in response to charges brought against dispensationalists by non-dispensationalists.

it seems that most people believe that their particular view is inerrant, and that other people are arrogant. maybe you should read this book about dispensationalism by someone who actually answers the opponents arguements.

Nick Draper said...

In response to the liberal/slippery slope dilemma, the question you could ask is "What did the author mean to say, and what would the original hearers have heard?" These questions are speculative, but they may be questions you can ask without sliding down the slope of cherry-picking or interpreting scripture on whims. I'd like to hear your thoughts on Ryrie's response to an author's intent charge.

In other news, what are your thoughts on the young adult lunch at conference?

Jason Woolever said...

hey nick, great to hear from you. I thought the young adult luncheon was fun. My favorite part of conference is hanging out with people. Hopefully we'll get together again in January. We need a voice in the conference, because right now its just a bunch of Baby Boomers worried about their own retirement. There not thinking about the conference they're leaving us! What did you think about it?

Nick Draper said...

I definitely agree with you that the best part of conference is hanging out with people.
We need a voice in the conference. But not just any voice...we need to be the voice of those involved in Christian ministry. This means that the message we send should reflect a seriousness about all of ministry, not just young adult ministry. It may be a good first step to ending the "my ministry comes first" mentality in the conference. If they want to leave us, then let's not leave them.

Anonymous said...

One can argue over dispensationalism and the pretrib rapture until Doomsday. But, as I see it, the way to settle the issue is to let history decide it. Either historical records exist or they don't. Re dispensationalism, they definitely do. And they aren't very pretty. Interested? Go Googling and type in "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (you'll be amazed at the amount of dishonesty in the rapture's 176-year history!). Other shocking (but documented) articles include "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Famous Rapture Watchers," "Open Letter to Todd Strandberg," and "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal" (plagiarism found in the writings of Falwell, LaHaye, etc.!). Yes, history can shut more mouths than all the "interpreters" put together can!

Jason Woolever said...

what would happen if we applied your "historical" measuring stick to Christianity in general? we could say the whole thing was a fraud.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to get someone's opinion of an article entitled "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" on the "Powered by Christ Ministries" site. It's a cinch that dispensationalists will NOT like it! Bertha